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CRUISER SAFARIS

Your Ultimate South African Safari Hunting Destination

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Safari hunting Speicals

2015 Safari Newsletter

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2015 Safari Newsletter

Cruiser Safaris yearly safari hunting client newsletter.

2015 Newsletter

Welcome to the 2015 newsletter. As we mentioned in last year’s newsletter we were making changes and improving not only the look but making it even easier to navigate on our web site. We have finally completed the entire newsletter. It took us a year to complete the entire site as it contains over 360 pages. We will continue to make improvements and to add additional information with current pictures and hopefully even more videos. Please let us know if there is anything that you would like to see us include on the site.

CONGRATULATIONS to Pieter. In March he was named Wildlife Rancher of the Year. Pieter was recognized for his extensive experience in genetics and game breeding, as well as his far-reaching and inclusive industry vision. Pieter impressed the judges with his extremely impeccable recordkeeping, the high standards of his breeding programs and his successful hunting business, Cruiser Safaris, as well as his involvement in the community and mentorships.

Also CONGRATULATIONS to Lizelle. She has earned her helicopter pilot license. This is an awesome feat in not only learning to fly a helicopter but the amount of academic training for this including meteorology, navigation, flight principles, planning, regulations and skills was a daunting task which she accomplished with flying colors.

As they have done every year Pieter and Lizelle continue to make improvements to not only the rooms and facility but also the décor of the camp. Even if you hunted with us recently you will find changes to the camp that not only improve the looks but also improve the comfort of our guests. As soon as possible we will update the website with new pictures of these improvements. Be sure to check out our Facebook page also.

This year’s hunting started out on a much nicer foot then the wet start of last year, which was very unusual. Our early hunters enjoyed excellent conditions and were able to obtain some excellent trophies.

In following my tradition of trying to give the reader of the newsletter the feeling of actually being on their safari with them, all of the stories that are included here are those actually written by our clients. These personal stories are enjoyed by everyone as they give the views of the hunter and non-hunter from their point of view. Every hunter that comes to Cruiser’s is included in our newsletter.

Included are where they are from and all of the animals that they take. Those trophies that qualify for the record book are indicated by a * and in the case of Kudu’s, their size is also listed. All trophy pictures that are sent to me are included as well. Thank you to those that have contributed their safari stories and I hope everyone enjoys this 2015 edition of Cruiser Safaris newsletter.

Cruiser Bob

NOTE: The * behind the animal indicates that it qualified for the record book.

March/April

SHANNON KIMMEL – Texas

Animals taken – Red Hartebeest*, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Steenbok*, Zebra, Kudu, Waterbuck*, Black Backed Jackal, Impala*

ROB KITTO – Texas

Animals taken – Impala*, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Gemsbok*, Zebra

RICHARD VOSS – Texas

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok, Zebra, Impala*, Warthog, Kudu

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

HANS-JUERGEN RUED and his daughter LAUREEN – Germany

Animals taken – 3-Blue Wildebeest*, 8–Impala (6*), Zebra, Gemsbok, Waterbuck, Blesbok*, Eland (f), Red Hartebeest*, 4–Warthog (2*)

MICHAEL EBI – Germany

Animals taken – Blesbok*, 2–Warthogs*, Zebra, Impala*, Steenbok*

KLAUS OBRIST – Germany

Animals taken – Blesbok*, 2–Warthogs*, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*

ARMIN DOTT – Germany

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Blesbok*, Warthog*, Waterbuck*

MATTHIAS RUED – Germany

Animals taken – Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Waterbuck*, Impala*, Blesbok*, 2 – Warthogs (1*)\

JASMIN RUF & DANIEL STOECKI – Germany

Came as observers

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

JOHN & DIANA GUNNELS – Alabama

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Steenbok*, Eland*, Red Hartebeest

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

Well, after a long four years and a bout with Mitral Valve Repair on my heart, I returned in April 2015 for my third hunting trip with Cruiser Safaris. During my heart trouble I did not know if I would ever see the wonders of South Africa again. But, God in His mercy healed me and allowed me another trip to see His beautiful creation of the Limpopo in South Africa. This trip was very special because my wonderful wife came with me for her first trip to Africa.

Hans was my guide this trip just as he was on the previous two. It was really good to see Hans again and to hunt with him for a third time. This trip made twenty seven days that Hans and I have been hunting in the Bush together. Memories that will last forever.

I had a fabulous eight day hunt culminating with five animals. A Gold Blue Wildebeest that scored 81 5/8 inches, a Silver Eland that scored 91 inches, a Silver Impala that scored 55 5/8 inches, a Bronze Steenbok that scored 10 7/8 inches, and a Red Hartebeest that just missed the SCI Record Book. Also, missed a chance at a Monster Warthog because I tried to put my ear plugs in my ears before I shot. Stupid Mistake.

I want to thank everyone at Cruiser's for our wonderful trip. Bob Clark, Pieter, Johan, Hans, DelMarie, Amy, and all the other guides. You made our trip special. I just hope each one of you know just how special you truly are. People come to you every year to have their dreams come true and all of you continue to help their dreams become a reality. May God bless you all.

IMAN TAGHIZADEH – British Columbia, Canada

Animals taken – Red Hartebeest*, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Eland*, Zebra, Gemsbok*, Warthog*, 3– Impalas (2*), Black Backed Jackal, Sable*, Waterbuck*, Kudu* (51 ¼”)

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

(Iman’s Sable hunt) We hunted all day hard for the sable and walked a lot of ks and about a few hours before dinner we saw one that was huge and mature and stalked him but last second decided to pass even though he was longest horns. I wanted something older with some more scars and an hour later we saw one at 350 yards and he was huge and old and had a lot of history the PH said. He was very elusive so we took him and shot him in the heart first shot and he still ran about 100 yards and then bedded down so we got closer and took another shot in his shoulder and I was in heaven and wow that was amazing how tough and majestic he was. It was a dream hunt for sure.

JASON & LAUREN LUSE – Montana

Animals taken – Zebra, Gemsbok*, Impala*, Kudu* (52 ½”), Blue Wildebeest*

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

(Jason’s Kudu) We were the first people to hunt this mountain area this year. Animals were everywhere we saw leopard tracks everywhere and baboons. We shot the kudu up on the mountain and had to cut it in half to get it out and it couldn't have happened in a prettier place. The whole day was just amazing.

MALCOLM JOHNSON – Alabama

Animals taken – 2 – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Blesbok*, Gemsbok*, Nyala*, Warthog*, Kudu* (52”)

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

The story of how I got my Kudu:

We saw this bull with 2 females early in the morning. We stopped the truck and got down but before we could start the stalk they were spooked. We spent the rest of the morning trying to find them again. After lunch, back on the prowl, we found them! The bull was a smart little sucker- he walked with his head down. It took Juan a few seconds once he stood up straight. We started the stalk that lasted a little over 3 hours and went less than a mile. It was the longest and most painful mile I have ever walked. We ended up spooking them when they were about 50-75 feet away but with a row of bushes between us. At this point it is starting to get close to dusk and we called it a day. Juan called in the truck and we started walking back to the road. We stopped for a second and a herd of Wildebeests ran by in front of us. Juan rounded a bush and stopped while setting up the shooting sticks. I am clueless as to why he has the sticks up since the bush is blocking my view but when the sticks go up the rifle comes out! Once I positioned the rifle I saw the most amazing sight- a kudu 75-100 feet away in a perfect bladed chest shooting position. Juan said shoot!, shoot!, and I did! The bad part about where he was standing is the horrible terrain which would have prevented the truck from getting anywhere near that area. Mr. Kudu had a burst of adrenaline and jumped over the down trees and ran about 500 feet to the other road! After 3 days of hunting for this beast- he was mine! 52” horns on him with a 42” neck. It was the hunt of a lifetime that I will never forget! Juan was the best PH ever!!! A big thank you to the Cruiser team. I am already planning the next trip!!!

DAN & KELLIE PEAL – Indiana

Animals taken – Kudu, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Gemsbok*,2 – Impalas*, Warthog*, Zebra

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

MAMDOUH FARAG – Alberta, Canada

Animals taken – Kudu* (53 ½”), Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Impala*, Bushbuck*, Blesbok*

TOM FRIDEL – Indiana

Animals taken – Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, 2 – Impalas*, Warthog*, Kudu* (51 1/8”), Waterbuck*, 2 – monkeys, Steenbok*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

May

GREG THUL – Saskatchewan, Canada

Animals taken – Blesbok*, Zebra, Impala*, Warthog*, Gemsbok*

TOM THUL – Saskatchewan, Canada

Animals taken – Impala*, Kudu* (50 ¾”), Blue Wildebeest*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

Not exactly the way you picture it in your head before arriving but still worked out great. Driving through the mountain property and came along the stream that runs through on the corner of the property. There was a really nice old Waterbuck sitting in the water. We sat and looked and took pictures for maybe a minute. Then on the opposite side of us we spotted a kudu walking in the clearing below some power lines. Dad got the gun up and shot. Hit it hard in the back end and it ran through the trees up against the fence on the outside of the property. We quickly drove to the other side of the tree row and it stood broadside. A second shot hit right on the front shoulder and it took off. Dad, John and the tracker headed into the bush after it. After what seemed to be forever, we heard another shot and knew it was over. Very cool moment when I walked up to my dad standing over his trophy. He's waited his whole life for that and it hard to describe how it felt to see him so happy.

RON & CARY SHERMAN – Missouri & SUSAN BOWEN (observer) – South Dakota

Animals taken – Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Waterbuck*, Blesbok*

ROGER SANFORD – Nebraska

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Bushbuck*, Blesbok*, Impala*, Warthog*]

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

CHARLIE & HOPE KEARNEY – Washington

Animals taken – Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Kudu* (51”), Warthog*, Gemsbok*

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

(Hope) To sum it up in one word for me it would be "BREATHTAKING".

I'm glad I went.

ANDY HOAK – Washington

Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Zebra, Waterbuck*

MILES BURMEISTER – Washington

Animals taken – Kudu* (56”), 2 – Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Gemsbok

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

(Andy) This is embarrassing to admit but I want to be honest so others can feel confident in their choice to use Cruiser safaris. My PH Hans and I did a stalk on some zebras by getting the wind in our favor and following their tracks. After about 10 minutes a blue wildebeest spoiled our stalk and sent the zebras running. Fortunately they didn't know where we were and stopped long enough for a shot. That’s where things went south and I made a dead center gut shot on the animal because of a combination of nervous animals and rushing the shot. Hans did not belittle me or show any disgust, only optimism that we would recover the zebra first thing in the morning. True to his word we walked right to it. I have been on other hunts when I witnessed someone else goof up and watched the outfitter make the hunter feel embarrassed and ashamed. Thankfully Pieter has first quality PH’s and they exhibit great people skills.

WALKER & ED LAMBERT – Kentucky

Animals taken – Warthog*, Kudu* (54”), Impala*, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

MIKE WYMER – Ohio

Animals taken – Impala*, Warthog*, Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (51 ½”), Blesbok*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

June

BUSTER YOUNG – Idaho

Animals taken – Warthog*, Impala*, Gemsbok, Kudu* (53”), Zebra

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

MIKE & MARIE BROSSARD – Quebec, Canada

Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Zebra, Kudu* (51”), Red Hartebeest*, 2 – Gemsbok, 2 – Blue Wildebeest*

JORGE & VIAD CASTILLO – Quebec, Canada

Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Impala*, Warthog*

PIERRE BERGER – Quebec, Canada

Observer

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

GENE WILKINS – Maryland

Animals taken – Blesbok*, Impala*, Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*, Kudu, Red Hartebeest*

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

TODD KIGER – West Virginia

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Kudu* (55”), Blesbok*, 2- Warthogs*, Impala*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

Each of my hunts were quite memorable. But here goes the best of the best.

Kudu: The Kudu hunt is memorable because of the size of the Kudu. I was lucky enough to tag a 55” Kudu, which should make SCI. We were striking out on my Gemsbok, so Juan took me to another property to have a go at Gemsbok there. I saw my first Eland on this property and was very impressed with their size. We scouted for the first couple hours with little to no luck on animals I needed on my list. We had stopped on one of the roads for Juan to show me some female Kudus off to our right. We just began to pull away when to our left I notice a Kudu bull. As soon as Juan saw it, he said “Get ready”. Before I could get a shot off, he was in the brush. Juan surveyed the situation and told me to prepare to shoot as he felt the bull would step across the road about 150 yards to our rear. He got me situated and the bull was headed toward the road. “Here he comes” said Juan. “If he stops before getting across take him.” He paused at the edge of the road and I place the 185 grain Barnes from my 300 H&H magnum right through the shoulder and into his heart and lungs. He went 15 yards across the road and collapsed. When we got to the bull Juan pulled out his tape measure (the first time I saw him do that). “He’s 55 inches.” Juan said. Of course my reply was “Is that good?” Juan told me to have it officially measured as it should make SCI. Although kind of anti-climactic, the Kudu hunt showed me I have to be prepared for any animal on my list at any time, plus it is an exceptional bull.

Gemsbok: I know, after my Gemsbok hunt, why the “P” in PH stands for professional. I had continued to strike out on Gemsbok each day and that was the animal I had wanted the most prior to my arrival. Juan took me to a location where he thought Gemsbok liked to frequent. As we drove along the road he signaled the driver to stop. He hopped out and looked at what I thought was about a 1000 tracks. “We are going to walk a bit.” Juan indicated. Off we went. Juan kept looking down at the tracks on the sandy ground; I couldn’t even tell there were tracks there. For about 20-30 minutes, I followed Juan as we zig-zagged through the bush, around thorn bushes, carefully missing any twigs on the ground. After a bit I almost ran in to Juan as he had stopped. All of a sudden he set up his shooting sticks and said, “There about 75 yards ahead, shoot that Gemsbok.” Somehow, some way Juan had followed those Gemsbok tracks from the road to within 75 yards of a mature bull. There I was looking at my most sought after animal standing broadside 75 yards away. I’m just thinking, Todd don’t blow this shot. Again my 300 H&H dropped the bull with a few yards of where he stood. What a truly great hunt and great experience. Tracking by a Professional Hunter at its best.

CHRIS & TRACY HUGGINS & their son MCCARTHY – South Carolina

Animals taken – Sable*, 2 – Warthogs*, Zebra, Red Hartebeest*, Ostrich, Impala*, Kudu*, Steenbok*

GUNNER HUGGINS – South Carolina

Animals taken – Black Backed Jackal, Waterbuck*, Nyala*, Klipspringer*

STUART JOHNSTON – South Carolina

Animals taken – Blesbok*, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Warthogs*, Gemsbok*, Waterbuck*, Nyala*

SHEILA JOHNSTON – South Carolina

Animals taken – Impala*, Warthog*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Steenbok*, Zebra

ELAINE HYMAN – South Carolina

Observer (took an Impala)

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

July

CHRIS & BRENDA PARTRIDGE – British Columbia, Canada

Animals taken – Warthog*, Bushbuck*, Waterbuck*, Steenbok*

JOHN PARTRIDGE (son)

Animals taken – Kudu* (54”), Duiker*, Black Backed Jackal, Red Hartebeest*, Gemsbok*, Impala*, 2 – Warthogs*, Monkey, Blesbok*

MAHLIA PARTRIDGE (daughter)

Animals taken – Zebra, Ostrich, Warthog*, Impala*, Monkey

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

CHUCK & TINA DENUNZIO – Ohio

Animals taken – Impala*, Kudu* (54”), Zebra, Gemsbok*, Warthog*

KEN SCHANBACHER – Pennsylvania

Animals taken – Sable*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

(Tina)

About the third day of our 7 day hunt, my husband was focusing on taking a warthog. We had seen several prior to that day...very fast and very gray. The little ones were so cute. That morning what a surprise when we saw our first "red" warthog. I told my husband it would be nice if he could take a gray one AND a red one for his trophy. Besides the grandchildren would be hrilled! After a few moments silence, the PH and our driver both chuckled and explained that they were all gray....the red one had just been rolling in the red dirt and as soon as it was shot the dust would fall off making the animal gray like all the others. Now I was the one who was red and it became the joke of our stay.

DUANE SWEENEY – Virginia

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Blesbok*, 2 – Warthogs*, 2 – Impalas*, Kudu* (51”)

CLINT HOVEY & his wife STACY – Utah

Animals taken – 2 – Impala (1*), Gemsbok*, Warthog*, Kudu* (52”), Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra

GLENN & CONNIE FOREMAN – Utah

Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, 2 – Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Kudu (1* 50 ¾”), 2 – Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest, 2 – Warthog*, 2 – Waterbuck*, Eland*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

(Duane)

BACKGROUND: I have wanted to go hunting in Africa since I was a kid, after having read all of the old stories written by the African hunters. Although South Africa sn’t as wild as the old days in Africa, it still provided a very unique experience to hunt where game is abundant and hunters have the opportunity to see and hunt various species. Back in 2011 I made the decision to start doing some research and plan a trip. I reviewed a lot of website, called references and for some reason, hard to identify, I settled on an outfitter called Cruiser Safari. My plans then got temporarily delayed with I decided to head back overseas to work in Afghanistan for a year. Upon my return in the summer of 2013, I reestablished contact with Cruiser Bob, the representative in the States for this outfitter and that fall I noted that an old college friend from Aberdeen, South Dakota mentioned in his Christmas card that he had hunted in South Africa that summer…. So I tracked down Bill Axlund and talked with him on the phone. As it turns out he had hunted with Cruiser Safari and had nothing but good things to say about the experience. The Cruiser Safari website can be found at: http://www.cruisersafaris.com/. Cruiser Bob, their representative in the US can be contacted via phone at 616-844-0136 or by email at: info@cruisersafaris.com. Because Cruiser Safari generally books up each year, they set aside one day for clients to call in and request reservations. I believe it is in March, for the following year, but by contacting Cruiser Bob you can get on the contact list for this particular day when reservations are made, first come, first serve. I ended up taking the 10 day gun package hunt, which included six animals, there is some substituting that can be done and my package ended up costing $5,550 and it included a Kudu, Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Warthog and Blesbok. (note: the Blesbok was a substitute for either the Duiker or Steenbok and cost an additional $175). As you will find if you finish reading this document, I ended up taking 8 animals during the hunt. The gun… basic recommendations by the outfitter is to come with a gun you are capable of shooting well. Bigger is not necessarily better. However, I am kind of a big bore supporter and ended up taking a Weatherby Vanguard in 338 Win Mag caliber. Certainly this isn’t necessary, but my personal recommendation would be to consider the 30:06 as the low end with thoughts that the 300 Mag, short Mag etc. as a great choice. I will admit that one group with me used a camp rifle in 270 and did fine on most animals.

SOUTH AFRICA:

My flight landed in Johannesburg, South Africa. There was light rain upon arrival, but we were told it was very unusual since this is the dry season. My departure was from Dulles, Airport near Washington DC. I flew on South African Airlines. Cost for the flight round trip was about $2,000. I booked through an agent recommended by Cruiser Safari, it was Custom Travel out of Milwaukee, WI, and they can be reached at 414-433-0089. Debbie is the manager. I did do some price checking on my own and found that they offered the same rate as I could get on my own, but they provided a lot of other valuable information, to include reservations at a hotel (Afton Guest House). It was an 18 hour flight, with one stop in Dakar, Africa to refuel and change out crews on the plane. We did not get off the plane during the stop over. It was about 12 hours into Dakar and then another 8 hours into Johannesburg. Dakar is located in the Northwestern part of Africa.

I was met at the airport by a representative from Afton Guest House, they assisted with getting the Gun through customs (South African Police) and we traveled about 15 minutes via van to the hotel, arriving about 6 PM. European style rooms, but nice and they offered a BQ Steak Dinner with we all took part in. Here I met up with Glenn and Connie Foreman from Utah, Clint and Stacy from Utah (Clint works for Glenn). There were two other couples at the facility just coming off from a hunt, so we enjoyed talking with them and had a great steak BQ for dinner.

I woke up at 3:00 AM and could not go back to sleep. The rain had stopped by morning and we had breakfast at 7 AM. We were picked up by a 15 Passenger Van from Cruiser Safari about 8 AM. We then picked up two other employees’ that had spent a few days in Johannesburg and hit the road by 9 AM. The first hour was on interstate like highways, and then a couple of hours on secondary blacktop roads and the last hour was on gravel roads. Along the way we stopped at a farmer’s market type mall where they picked up a large amount of fruits, vegetables, etc. to bring out to the lodge. With a few extra potty breaks the trip took close to six hours.

Upon arrival at the lodge we unloaded our gear, were assigned to a room. Got oriented by the cook, DelMarie and had a late lunch. We then headed to the rifle range to ensure our guns were shooting accurately. They had a 100 yard range set up with bench rests. I was assigned a young man named Sarel (25 years old) as my guide/Professional hunter. The next morning I met Samuel, our driver/tracker that was with us most of the time we hunted.

At some point that day we met the owner of the hunting operation, Pieter Lamprecht. Pieter was in his early 40’s. He and his wife and three kids lived in a home adjacent to the lodge. Pieter’s wife flew their helicopter and they had a 12 year old son and two daughters, aged 10 and 4. We learned more and more about Pieter during our stay. He liked to pull pranks on the guests and we learned that his primary occupation did not just include just the hunting operation. He is in fact a well know/award winning wild game breeder in South Africa. No one briefed us on this, but just by observing we could see that the major focus on breeding was with an animal called a Sable. Typical breeding pastures were probably 40-80 acres with a trophy bull Sable and maybe up to twenty cow sables. These animals all received supplementary feeding, minerals and had water facilities in the pastures. We were told that if more than one bull was put in a pasture that they would fight to the death of one animal. We also saw evidence of breeding for black Impala, Kudu, Cape Buffalo and various other species. These animals were relatively tame and hunting was not allowed in or around where they were kept.

Again, I am speculating but it appears that most of the hunting locations consisted of one or more square miles of land. Fences were well built, normally 7 or 8 feet high with a cable wire system, rather than barbed wire which is popular in the US. Cables were generally 6-8 inches apart, so the cost to maintain the fencing had to be high. Quality gates were included in the fencing, with most gates rolling on a rail when open or closed. The warthogs were one animal that just could not be kept behind a fence, since they would dig tunnels between fields whenever they wanted. We hunted on land that was both owned by Pieter and land that was leased for hunting. We hunted one ranch about an hour and a half drive from the lodge where the owner indicated he had over 6,000 acres and was primarily engaged in cattle farming. Each year on this ranch he allowed 5 Kudu’s to be harvested. The bottom line is that the game is managed closely by the owners. My experience now is that the game is as wild as what we find the US, however the density of the animal population is significantly greater than what we find in the US. The hunting techniques vary and in our case the guides allowed the hunter to have input to the techniques used. The general techniques include:

  • Spotting game from the back of the truck, dismounting and then stalking the animals.
  • Still hunting through the bush
  • Sitting in a blind at water holes

I shot one animal while sitting at a water hole. I shot one animal while we were simply still hunting and the other five were spotted from the truck and then we dismounted and either stalked the animal or moved to a likely travel path and waited for the animal to come to us.

Keep in mind that the season’s in South Africa are the opposite of what we experience here in the US. Since we hunted in late July and early August, that means it was their winter. Most nights/early mornings the temperatures were in the high 30’s or low 40’s. We did not experience a freeze, but they sometimes do. Day high temperatures averaged between 70-80 degree’s. I found the weather comfortable for hunting, we experience no rain while were there. The first half of the hunt we experience some dew in the morning, but the last few days there was no dew and it seemed to create more dust in the air. The soil varied in the hunting areas from what they called “red sand”… I thought it looked like red clay and a more typical brown soil that they called “clay”. The flat lands did not have a lot of rock, but the areas in the mountains had lots of rock. The grass was generally thigh high and most of the terrain was covered with brush and trees. Most of the vegetation had thorns…

22 July – Departure Day. Lee dropped me at Dulles airport about 2 PM. Flight was scheduled for departure at 5:40. I got through the airlines and customs with the gun quicker than expected and ended up with a couple of hours of waiting for my flight to depart.

23 July – Keep in mind that we lost about six hours due to time change. There was also the stop in Dakar for fuel, but ended up landing about on time in Johannesburg, South Africa about 5:40 PM… eighteen hours of flying makes for a long day. Spent the night at the Afton House.

24 July – Picked up around 8 AM, by cruiser safari staff, discussed the travel in earlier paragraphs.

25 July – Hunting Day 1 – Assigned to a property that was about an hour and 15 minute drive from the lodge, so we had an early breakfast and departed prior to sunup. Our focus that day was to look for a Gemsbok, but please keep in mind that all hunting areas have a variety of game. This property had electrical highline wires running across it that had the tall steel towers holding up the lines. I am not sure of the size of this property, but I would speculate that it was 3-4 square miles in size. After arriving on the property we left the truck and started to walk. A short time later an Impala walked into an opening near the highline wires. My PH thought it was a good one and put out the shooting sticks. I was a bit excited and was having a hard time holding steady on the sticks……. The PH then said, “Oh we can find a bigger one” and we moved on without taking a shot. As we hunted the area, the PH climbed up the steel towers a couple of times to look for game. He spotted some Gemsbok, but we could not catch up with them. He then called for the truck and we began to drive to another part of the hunting area. Along the way, we encountered a herd of Wildebeest. My guess is there were 20 or more animals in the herd. We dismounted and the truck left the area. We were unable to get a shot at a bull and the animals ran off. We then started to walk slowly through the area. Probably 30-40 minutes later at five minutes to 9 AM we spotted a bull Wildebeest stand up in the bush about 130 yards away. We could see the head, neck, front shoulder and about half of the body. Again my PH indicated it was a good bull and I should shoot. He put up the shooting sticks and stepped aside. I thought that I had taken a good shot and I had heard the bullet impact and had seen the animal hunch up and then run off. It was unknown to me at this time, but we were just starting what would turn out to be the most challenging day of my 10 day hunt.  When we arrived at the location where the animal had been standing my PH found a spot of blood about the size of ¼ of your small finger nail… not good I was thinking. As he began following the tracks it was apparent that there were at least three more Wildebeest that were with the one I had shot and their track were all running together. I would speculate that my PH was finding a small drop of blood on the red soil or smeared on a stalk of grass maybe ever fifty yards…. About 400 yards later one set of track left the other three sets. This caused the PH to do some looking to ensure that we were on the right set of tracks. But as expected the wounded animal was the one that left the group. We continued on the track for another thirty minutes finding just small amounts of blood. As we approached another trail, the PH called the driver/tracker and had him bring the vehicle to us. When he arrived both the PH and tracker were now on the tracks with me following along thinking that we should be seeing more blood and wondering how these guys could stay on this track. It seemed to me that we were constantly encountering tracks from all kinds of animals crossing our path. After about 2 ½ hours it was decided we would take a short lunch break and hopefully the animal would lay down. So we eat, drank and rested from about 12:00 to 12:30 and then started back on the track. The animal was making a large circle, so by lunch we were not too far from our vehicle. By 12:30 were back on the track. The PH’s claim to have spotted the animal several times, but it always immediately ran off. I didn’t see it. By about 2:00 PM, my feet were hurting, my hips were hurting, I was tired and having more trouble ducking the thorny bushes….. and I was getting a bit depressed thinking that I had wounded an animal and it would get away. The PH then spotted the animal out in front of us – but try as I might, I just could not see it…….the PH had told me several times that if we spot it again to shoot quick… as he said, just put another hole in it anywhere to slow it down. Well at this point, I handed my rifle to the PH, told him that I was too tired to walk much further and that he should shoot to end the chase. He fired a round and indicated that he could only see the mid-section on the animal so had likely but a round through the guts….. We continued on for another thirty minutes and they spotted the animal again, this time closer, but in the thick stuff. I could see a hind quarter, but could not see to see the shoulder shot that the PH said was available…. So I again handed him my rifle and said, “let’s get this over with”…. The PH put another round in him and he ran off again. This time not so far. At about 3 PM we found the Wildebeest dead in some nasty bushes. The tracker went for the truck and camera’s. They were able to push the truck through the brush to about 50 yards from the animal. We took several pictures where it lay…. I was too tired to be of much help, but the PH and tracker then drug this animal closer to the truck. They would each grab on, say 1,2,3 and then tug it three feet, then say 1,2,3 and tug it another three feet…. So it took a while to get it to a location where they could position it for better photo’s. Our trucks were equipped with a rear winch that can drag the animal up into the bed of the truck… then with three pushing we can close the end gate to get it ready to transport. Normally the game is taken whole back to the lodge, where skinners prepare the skinning depending upon whether a mount is desired or not and ultimately removes the guts and once cleaned it is stored in a walk in cooler. We then headed back to camp, dropped off our gear and took the animal to the skinning shed. I am having a skull mount done in this animal and will have the hide made into a rug. When I got back to camp, I immediately went to my room, took 4 aspirin and got a glass of whiskey. Shortly after dinner I was falling asleep in a chair and decided to hit the rack about 8 PM…. I continued to take aspirin for the aches and pains for several days.

26 July – Hunt day 2 – We were assigned to a new property that was much closer to our lodge, so had a nice hot breakfast and we departed after sun up. The PH again indicated we would focus on the Gemsbok. We were driving and looking for game for the first hour… saw lots of animals, but nothing big enough to shoot. An hour or so into the hunt I spotted a couple of Gemsbok off to the right of the road running away, the vehicle dropped us off after passing the location where I saw the animals and the vehicle drove away. The PH finally spotted two Gemsbok about 300 yards from us and they were alert and watching since the vehicle had left the area. We sat down behind some bushes and kept an eye on the animals. They stayed alert for nearly 30 minutes and finally started to graze angling closer to our location. They continued to appear and disappear in the brush, but finally hit an opening about 130 yards from our location. The PH told me it was a female, but it had long horns and he recommended that I take the animal. I took a shot from the shooting sticks and the animal ran off. At the site where the animal was standing, we found blood and after tracking them for about 200 yards we found the animal dead. The horns measured 39.5 inches and 39.75 inches. We were able to get the truck close, loaded the animal and delivered it back to camp to the skinning shed. It was at this point that I now knew that the hunt was going to cost me more. I initially planned to only do European mounts (skull and horns), but after looking at this animal I knew I was going to have to have it mounted. We made it back to camp in time for a hot lunch, so we rested a bit, had lunch and headed back out to the field by 1:00 PM.

In the afternoon we spotted some blesbok, got off the truck and tried an unsuccessful stock….. We continued on foot for an hour or so and came across another blesbok, were able to approach within about 150 yards and after two shots the animal was down for the count. The horns taped at 15.25 inches and we were able to get it back to the skinning shed before the sun went down.

27 July – Hunt Day 3 – We were assigned to a leased property that was about an hour and a half drive from camp. It turned out to be the thickest spot we had hunted so far. You could never see very far. The PH indicated there was a lot of Kudu on the property, but after an hour of driving and an hour of walking we had seen some animals, but no shots on anything worth taking. It was decided we would spend the afternoon sitting on a water hole, so about 11:00 we stopped and cut brush for an hour, then hauled it to a water hole and set up a blind about 50 yards away from a water hole. The blind was thick with only a few peek holes and a shooting hole. We were in the blind shortly after noon and had our lunch and water close at hand. We saw a lot of game come into the water. I estimate that we saw close to 50 warthogs, a couple of groups of Kudu with just cows and calves, there was several nice Impala that came to water and I was itching to shoot, but the PH said lets hold off for a Kudu. At about 2:30 a big boar warthog came in and the PH indicated it was a good one and he recommended that I shoot it…. This was the one animal that didn’t move after the shot. I did think that it was a bit unusual that a 338 Win Mag with 225grain bullets didn’t penetrate all the way through the pig…. We called on the radio for the truck, took some quick pictures and loaded it on the truck and went back to sitting in the blind. The rest of the afternoon was pretty uneventful…. We did see three pretty good Gemsbok come in, but I already had one of those. We loaded back into the truck about a half an hour before sun down and hunted a bit on the way out of the property and then had the long drive back to camp in the dark. We had another couple; Gary and Jan arrive in camp. They were on a seven day hunt and were from Texas. Nice folks. We have been eating wild game most of the time since arriving in camp an on this evening we had Wildebeest and Kudu for dinner along with potatoes, rice, salad and carrot cake for desert…..

28 July – Hunt day 4 - We hunted the morning close to camp, stalked a couple of Impala, but didn’t have any luck getting close enough for a shot. While heading back for lunch we spotted a small herd of huge Impala – but unfortunately they had escaped from a breeding pen and we were not allowed to shoot them. They have plans to try and dart them (tranquilizer gun) and get them back into the breeding pen.     While at lunch we got word that another hunter had a wounded Wildebeest and my PH got a tracking dog and drove it out the site. They ended up recovering the Wildebeest and I wondered why we didn’t use the dog on my Wildebeest back on day 1…. Anyway, no big deal. The afternoon was a bit short and we had no more luck, so ended day 4 without any game.

29 July – Hunt day 5 - I was excited today. We were going to what they called the mountains to focus on Kudu. The day prior Glenn Foreman had taken a big Kudu bull from this property and he was the first hunter of the season. It was over an hour drive to the location, so we packed a lunch and departed early. It was not like the Rocky Mountains, but they were rocky and steep. We checked in at the ranch home and this guy always went along on the hunt. He had a few animals he considered breeding stock that he didn’t want shot, and since he knew the ranch well he was a valuable resource to have along. His ability to spot game seemed even better than the PH’s and they were good. The ranch was in a large valley adjacent to the mountains. He was primarily a cattle rancher and had over 6,000 acres. As the rancher was joining us in the truck, next to his home a herd of 10-12 Impala ran out of the tree’s and started grazing a few hundred yards from our truck. There was one big buck in the group and the PH asked the rancher, do you allow shooting this close to your house. The rancher replied that it was his property and we could shoot anywhere we wanted. We approached the herd to within about 100 yards and I made the shot. The bullet went through both shoulders, but the animal took off running and disappeared from site behind some brush. We watched as all the animals scattered and could not spot the buck that I had shot at. After walking to the site, we spotted the buck dead, it had run only about 30-40 yards before falling dead. Still it shows how tough the animals are, both front shoulders broken by a 338 slug and it manages to run a short distance before dying. We loaded the animal in the back of the truck and continued hunting. The horns on this Impala measured about 23.5 inches on each horn. We drove a couple of miles through the valley floor and spotted a number of cow Kudu and some small bulls. We then climbed a rocky trail up to the top of a mountain. There we drove around on the flat top and stopped ever half mile or so and walked to the edge and glassed for game. Although there were a lot of tracks on top, I think the animals entered the lower ground at night to feed and water and then climbed back into the mountains to lay up during the day.  We didn’t seem much on top, but did spot three bulls in the valley, a long distance off. After a couple of hours we had pretty much checked this mountain out without much success. We headed down the mountain into the valley to check out the area where the three bulls had been previously spotted. We played hide and seek with these three bulls for about an hour when the PH and rancher decided they were too young and needed another couple of years to grow.  I can tell you that although I sometimes saw parts of the animals I had no idea how big they were. The rancher then decided that it was getting warm and the Impala should be gutted and hung in a cooler due to the temperature, so we drove back to the ranch, gutted the animal and hung it in a cooler. We had some lunch and then headed back out. We worked our way back up the valley. At every water hole we saw animals including Kudu cows and small bulls, impala, Bushbuck and a fair amount of the rancher’s cattle. He discussed how when calves were born that he takes them and the mother down near the ranch until the calf in a few weeks old….. He indicated this help to protect them from leopards that lived in the area. A couple of hours later we were about ¾ of the way up the valley towards the top of the mountains when the rancher (who was driving) stopped and got out and indicated he had seen a nice bull disappear downhill to our right…… he indicated if we followed the bull we would likely chase it away and not get a shot……. So we climbed up hill on the opposite side of where the animal disappeared. After climbing about 150 yards up hill we sat down in an open rocky area and the rancher explained that the Kudu bull would likely climb up hill on the opposite slope and we should just watch and see what happens. A short time later the bull did climb into sight and stopped behind some thick brush. The PH set up the shooting sticks and indicated the bull would likely come out on the right side of the brush and he would whistle to stop the bull and I should shoot. It happened exactly as they said, the bull walked into the open, the PH whistled and the bull stopped, I estimate the range was 150-170 yards……. I squeezed the trigger and found that the safe was still engaged…. A bit embarrassing, but I clicked the safe off and squeezed off a shot.  The animal took off running, I pulled off the shooting sticks and fired a second round, and the rancher indicated that I had shot low on the shot, but the animal then collapsed. My first shot had been right behind the shoulder and it ran less than 50 yards before falling. We climbed down hill and then back up the other side to reach the bull. It was only as we approached the bull that I realized how big it was. Each horn measured a bit over 50 inches in length.  Unfortunately as the bull fell the tip of one horn was damaged on the rocks, but we recovered the small piece that was broken off and the taxidermy assured me they could repair the horn and I would never know that it was damaged. After taking pictures the work began…. The animal was too large to be drug down the mountain. The truck was maneuvered off the road closer to the animal, but it was probably 150 yards to the truck, all steep downhill with lots of loose rocks, etc. It was decided they would first gut the animal out, and then they cut it in half, right in front of the hind quarters. They then made cuts between a couple of ribs; inserted a six foot dead branch and the PH and tracker lifted the animal onto their shoulders. The rancher and I then attempted to follow them downhill holding the horns up to keep the hide and horns from being damaged. Luckily we managed to get down to the truck with only a few falls and no one hurt. A second trip was made with the hind quarters. At about 2:00 we headed back to the ranch, reloaded the impala and drove back to camp arriving by 4:30. Off loaded the animals at the skinning shed, watched the skinning process and then cleaned up for dinner.

I am now five days into a 10 day hunt and I have killed the six animals that I have signed up for….. So what do I do now??

Let’s back up a bit and talk about the rest of the hunters in Camp. I have known Glen Foreman since the 1980’s when he and I worked together in a US Army Recruiting Battalion. We have hunted together in Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado. Glenn had invited Clint along since Clint works for Glenn.

Glenn initially told me that he was going to let his wife shoot one or two animals from his list and that he planned to take nothing home but pictures…… well how plans can change. The first day in camp Glen and Connie were discussing what Connie wanted to shoot. She asked for the Kudu and Glenn indicated they would flip a coin since he also wanted to take the Kudu. Now keep in mind you can generally pay for extra animals – but the Kudu is probably the most sought after animal in the bunch we hunted and so you are not allowed to buy a second Kudu – just one per hunting package. Connie won the coin toss for the Kudu……. So the next day it was decided that rather than have Connie just shoot a couple of animals from Glenn’s package that Connie would become a hunter and get her own package of six animals. This then allowed Glenn to also get to hunt the Kudu. As time went on Glen decided he was also going to take a Waterbuck and an Eland. Connie also took a Red Hartebeest…. Near the end of the hunt Connie also took a large Waterbuck… so their plan changed significantly during the hunt.

Clint came to Africa intending to hunt with a Bow. He shot and lost a Gemsbok on the first day. Although his hit was likely not fatal to the animal, if you draw blood then you pay for the animal whether it is recovered or not. In the end, Clint took animals with both his bow and a gun. Ultimately taking a Warthog, Impala, Wildebeest, Kudu and a Zebra.

Gary, the guy from Texas was on a 7 day hunt and took a Gemsbok, Impala, Kudu, Warthog and Wildebeest.

Now back to the hunt.

30 July – Hunt Day 6 -I spent the morning hanging around camp. I went with an employee that drives around checking the breeding pens, looking for animals that might be injured or sick or looking for new calves that have been born….. Back in camp, sat in the sun by the pool and read a book. Had lunch and then told my PH that I might take another warthog or Impala if we could find one bigger than I had already shot. Note that the warthog and Impala are two of the cheapest animals on the list to hunt…. Anyway, we drove around for a couple of hours on some leased property and saw a lot of game, but nothing bigger than what I had. We then transitioned to another leased property and saw a large warthog that was stealing feed from an Ostrich feeding tub. We talked with the owner since this warthog was in a location where we normally didn’t hunt --- probably a breeding pen for the Ostrich. At any rate the owner indicated yes, we could shoot the pig. We walked to within about 70 yards of the pig. It had gotten inside the feeding tub, tossing alfalfa out on the ground. The PH kept referring to this animal as a “Naughty Boy”, for getting into the feed. We waited about 15 minutes and the warthog jumped out of the tub and gave me a 70 yard broadside shot. At the shot the pig ran off, we tracked it for 150 yards and found it dead.   Once again we noted that the bullet had not penetrated through the pig. The skinners did recover the bullet… Still don’t understand how something this small can stop a 338 Caliber bullet at these close ranges.

31 July – Hunt day 7 - Most of us were doing well on taking game and it was decided that we would visit a game park.   We got up early and drove about three hours to the park. While at the park we purchased some mementoes and saw animals that were not available in the hunting areas. We were lucky to have both a Rhino and Elephant cross the road close to our vehicle. We had lunch at the game park and then headed back towards camp and stopped at a local fair. Reminded me of a county fair in the states, some rides, lots of food vendors, lots of booths selling everything you can imagine. Judging of cows, chickens, etc. and a wild game auction. They also had camel rides at the fair; Glen and Connie were brave enough for a ride.  Should have had my camera, but didn’t. We then stopped for dinner at a restaurant in a small town and got beck to camp about 7:30 PM

1 August – Hunt day 8 - I did another lazy camp morning, walked around camp, checked horns at the skinning shed, read a book, and after lunch we went hunting again for a bigger Impala. Shortly after arriving in our hunting area, we received notification that the Gary, the Texas hunter had wounded a Wildebeest. I told the PH that it was no problem to cancel our hunt, so we raced back to camp to get the dog. We loaded it up and headed for the hunt area which was about an hour drive away. We met up with the other group. Keep in mind that this dog is some kind of hound; I thought it looked like a blue tick, but they have some other name. It is young, less than one year old. The PH started it out on the leash and once he thought it was on the scent, they turned it loose. About a half an hour later we get a radio call that they think the dog has taken after a warthog and we should drive around looking for it. We found the dog a short time later and it had gotten through the fence and was on some other property. We managed to talk the dog into following us to a warthog tunnel and coaxed it back to our side of the fence and loaded it into the truck. We were advised to just keep the dog with us in the truck. We drove back to the wait area and gave the dog a bottle of water. About ten minutes later it just jumped out of the truck and headed out. We tried to call it back since it was heading in the wrong direction, but it didn’t respond to our calls. After running a couple of hundred yards in the wrong direction it circled back and passed by us again heading the correct direction. About thirty minutes later we heard the dog start to bark off and on…. Then it went into a frenzy of barking. The two PH’s decided the dog was probably into another warthog, so one headed to the dog with the other PH and hunter stayed on the track. When my PH arrived at the dog he found that it had a wildebeest bayed. The PH indicated he had to watch a bit to determine if this was a wounded animal, it finally turned and he could tell one shoulder was broken, so he shot the Wildebeest, the dog and Wildebeest then tangled up with the dog biting it’s horn and nose…. Once the dog got into a safe position the PH shot the animal again and it was all over. It was getting dark as the loaded the animal on the truck and we headed back to camp.

2 August – Hunt Day 9 - I spent day 9 trying not to shoot any more animals. I hung around camp, read a book by the pool, watched others bring game into camp and generally rested up. About 5 PM the owner came by and told us that a Sable had just had a calf and they were going to go tag it and wanted to know if we wanted to come along and watch. We all loaded up in a truck and headed out…….. Turned out that they had a surprise BQ planned at a site about 1 mile from camp along the dry river. The dinner was great, with the help of a lot of candles we managed to eat in the dark and got back to camp about 8 PM. This site was along a river, but there was no water in the river this time of year… just a sandy bottom.

3 August – Hunt Day 10 - After spending day 9 in camp and watching more animals come in I decided to hunt again…. Looking for a bigger Impala. The wives had left early to go ride an elephant somewhere a couple of hours from camp…. So Glenn came along with me and the PH. Soon after arriving in the hunting area we spotted a small group of Impala bucks. We dismounted from the truck and it drove away. The PH and I stalked up, two of the impala ran off, but one buck stayed. After about 15 minutes of crawling and watching the buck was about 125 yards away standing in brush, looking directly at us. The PH indicated it was a good animal and he didn’t think we could get any closer. He suggested I shoot off his shoulder since standing to use the sticks would probably scare the animal off. I held the rifle on his shoulder and noted the animal was not broadside, but front on…… I shot and it ran off. The PH initially said, “I hate to tell you think, but I think you missed since I saw a puff of dust behind the animal where the bullet hit and he looked healthy when running off. We headed to the site where the animal was standing, but there were tracks everywhere… we found no blood.  However, we headed in the direction we saw the animal run. The PH was following a running track, not sure if it was the right track, I was off to his right about 20 yards. He then called me to come quick and we could see the animal lying down with head up, about 70 yards out in front of us. One shot from the stick and it was all over. This Impala had horns that measured about 25.5 inches. We were back in camp before lunch. After Lunch, the owner came by and told me that the Vet was on site and they were going to go work some animals and wanted to know if I wanted to come along…. So I headed out. We traveled a few miles to a neighbor’s place. There was a small pasture, maybe forty acres with Cape buffalo. One bull, four cows and three calves. The Calf’s were probably 400 lbs. What had happed with that one cow had jumped the fence into a larger pasture and was running with maybe 25 other Cape Buffalo and had left behind the calf that was still nursing. We drove slowly around the pasture chasing the buffalo until we got within about 40 yards. The VET shot a tranquilizer dart into the calf. We then following it around for a while, they told me usually 5 minutes and they are asleep….. After ten minutes the calf could not keep up with the other animals and they drove the truck near it and one guy jumped out and grabbed it by the tail and two more got out and grabbed it by the head.   Another truck then came out and 8 guys picked up the calf and put it in the back of a pickup. They drove to a circular corral and off loaded the animal, drew blood, gave it some medicine, then a shot to wake it up.

While this was going on Pieter’s wife had flown in and landed in the helicopter. The vet then got in the helicopter with the dart gun and they flew off. We followed into the bigger pasture and could occasionally see the herd of buffalo running with the helicopter in pursuit. Once they had darted the cow, they hovered over it pointing down and we drove through the bush to the cow. A large bucket loader then came in and they rolled the cow into the bucket and drove it back to the coral with the calf. After waking up the cow the cow and calf were back together again. They indicated in about three days they would release the animals back into the pasture.

The helicopter and vet they took off again and we drove a few miles to another pasture. There was a young cape buffalo there with large horns that they wanted to measure. The bull was shot and we again drove through the bush to the animal. As they discussed it was a medium sized animal but already had huge horns. They took measurements and then gave the bull a shot to wake it up and we got out of the area. I did manage to get close enough to touch the bull’s horns.

While driving through the area it was noted that a sable cow had miscarried a calf and the umbilical cord was hanging out the back of the sable cow. The vet was brought in and the cow was tranquilized. They then gave it some medicine to help it expel the afterbirth, and then tied a stick to the umbilical cord to help gently tug on the cord when the animal walked around then woke it up and we left and went back to camp. They indicated it might take a day or two for the after birth to be expelled. We had dinner, spent the last evening getting our bills settled and packing for departure.

4 August – Departure Day - We drove back to the Johannesburg area and stopped at Highveld Taxidermists. It took several hours for each of us to place our orders and then we headed off to the airport for the flight home. Some 20 hours later I was picked up at Dulles Airport by my wife at about 7 AM on 5 August. Good to be back home, but I will be back in Africa before I get much older.

GARY & JAN CROUCH – Texas

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Impala*, Kudu*, Warthog*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

My wife and I travelled to South Africa with a lot of anticipation not knowing what to expect even though we had studied the website over and over and over. Everything went according to plan except DFW (our own backyard) but that is not what is important. What is important is that my wife and I had an experience of a lifetime. I had settled on a 7 day package with a warthog add on. I got all of my animals and midstream added a Blue Wildebeest. Asking which one is my favorite is like asking someone which is your favorite kid. I love them equally even though each is different and has a different story.  The old man Kudu, past his prime raking the trees(off my PH's shoulder 40 yards), the small herd of Gemsbok who just wouldn't stay still, the warthog using the same waterhole as some nasty Cape Buffalo who spooked my wife just after peeing in the bushes, the Impala(off my PH's shoulder 80 yards), master of his harem, and those crazy elusive Wildebeest and the ALL day chase it took (off the sticks 100 yards) including a 2 1/2 hour retrieve after I made a less than perfect shot (those PHs are really good but so is the dog! It is a big wide world out there and there is still a lot of stuff I want to do. I might not get another chance to hunt South Africa, but if I do I would have to come back To Cruiser's.

August

BILL MCNAMARA – Alabama

RYAN MCNAMARA (son) & CONNOR (grandson) – Tennessee

Animals taken – Waterbuck*, Blue Wildebeest* Blesbok* 3 – Warthogs*

BRETT VALENTZ – Alabama

Animals taken – Impala*, Warthog*, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra

MARCUS AZZARELLO & AMANDA FORET – Louisiana

Animals taken – Impala*, Warthog*, Kudu* (52”), Zebra

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

JEREMY STONE & his son PATRICK – South Carolina

Animals taken – 2 – Gemsbok (1*), 2 – Impala*, Kudu* (53”), Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Warthogs*

(NOTE: Jeremy’s father-in-law KEN HELLER came as an observer)

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

JACOB & MARIA BYNUM – Texas

Animals taken – Warthog*, Gemsbok, Kudu*, Waterbuck* Zebra, Giraffe, Impala* - (Maria)

MARK & DENISE CANIL and their son MATTHEW – Maine

Animals taken – Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Gemsbok*, Impala*, 2 – Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Ostrich, Zebra, 2 – Warthog*, Nyala* - (DENISE)

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

(Jacob)

The safari started by departing Afton Guest house after a wonderful stay. We made the long drive up to Cruiser Safaris. We were greeted by Delmarie and the staff with a cold drink. We got settled in and went to the range to check our rifles. All was good so we had a nice dinner and got ready for the hunting.

Day 1: We went to a property with lots of impala, gemsbok, and warthog. We walked around most of the morning without having much luck, but we did see a bunch of animals at times moving in the distance. We did come across a wounded impala while we were on the property. It had 1 horn and was walking on just 3 legs. The fourth leg had the foot missing and only bone was sticking out. The PH called the landowner, and they told me to shoot the animal so it would not suffer. So I shot the impala, but it didn't count toward my package. We packed a picnic lunch and decided to eat near a water hole to see what came by. We sat there about 3 hours (the truck was late picking us up), but thankfully the truck was late because a nice warthog came in right before the truck showed up. I made the shot to claim my first trophy of the safari.

Day 2: We went back to the same property on day 2 in the morning, but we weren't able to get a shot on any impala or gemsbok after lots of walking. We went back to camp for lunch and went to a different property in the afternoon. We drove the property for a while when suddenly the PH had the driver stop the truck. There was a gemsbok on the side of the road about 220 yards ahead. They pulled the truck over and the PH jumped out to get a look.  He told me to take the shot, but I was concerned as there were lots of twigs and bushes in my line of sight. I thought I had an opening so I took the shot. We heard the impact sound, so I knew I hit the animal. When we got to the spot we found blood and some bone. The tracker was pretty sure it was leg bone. We tracked the animal for a few hundred yards and could see where it would lay down at times. We finally spotted it ahead walking in the brush. We were able to move around and get another shot on it. This time it dropped. Once we looked at the gemsbok, we saw my first shot hit him in the back leg. It was pretty clear my bullet hit a twig and deflected, but fortunately we got the animal before sunset.

Day 3: We went to the mountain property on day 3. It was a beautiful piece of property. It is actually owned by Pieter's brother, who runs a safari there. We did lots of riding on bumpy roads and glassing of the mountain sides looking for Kudu. We saw quite a bit in the morning, but they always seem to move or get behind trees when I got the crosshairs on them. All the shots would have been 200 - 400 yards. I was really hoping I got one there, as it would have been quite a story to explain how anyone could haul an animal out of that terrain. Those hillsides were steep and rocky.  We didn't have any luck that morning, and all the animals seemed to disappear in the evening. I don't think we saw a single bull that evening, which was surprising. So no trophies for day 3.

Day 4: We went to a different property looking for Kudu. We drove around and also did some walking. We came up on a group of a few nice Kudu bulls. Hein gave them a glass and told me which animal to take. I put up the rifle and dropped him right where he stood. I was very pleased with the animal. He measured over 50 inches. After getting him loaded, the tracker took him back to camp while we continued hunting. We didn't see much while the tracker was gone. When he got back it was time for lunch. We parked the truck under a tree and had a picnic. My wife was laid out on the back bench while Hein and I chatted on the hood. Out of nowhere, a massive waterbuck came out into the opening less than 70 yards from us. I had no plans to shoot a waterbuck on this hunt, so we just watched him for a bit (plus my rifle was in the back of the truck. While watching it, Hein told me that this waterbuck is a monster. He said that this animal was not the typical size and I should really consider taking this trophy. I told him to try and sneak to the back for my gun and I would think about it if the animal doesn't see us and run off by the time he gets back. Hein was like a ninja and was able to get my gun and crawl to the front of the truck were I was sitting. He handed me the gun and I put the crosshairs on the waterbuck. I didn't know much about size for the waterbuck, so I asked him again if he was sure this animal was worth it. He told me even if I remove another animal from my package, I must take this animal or I would regret it. I trusted him and took the shot. The waterbuck ran about 15 yards and fell. Once we got closer and looked at the animal, Hein was even more mpressed. He said that I would soon learn just how big a trophy I had taken. Sure enough he was right. We got back to camp and the horns measured 32 inches. Pieter told me that there have only been 4 waterbuck in the last 20 years that have measured 32. That made me realize even more just how big of an animal I had shot. I definitely learned that there are always opportunities of chance while hunting.  After that excitement, I took the rest of the day off from hunting.

Day 5: My wife had gone with me every day during the safari. This was very surprising to me since she has never hunted and never agrees to go with me when I whitetail hunt at home. What was even more surprising is that she decided thatshe wanted to shoot an impala. So on day 5 we went to a watering hole most of the morning and sat in a blind for her to have a chance at an impala. After a couple of hours, animals starting coming in and there were a group of 5 rams. She got the gun up and was watching one. She had the scope adjusted and was about to shoot when the animal starting walking away. I think this made her feel rushed so when the impala got close to the woods and paused, she shot. Unfortunately she did not make a good shot. I thought she missed, but the PH saw the impala run off with a stiff leg. We walked several hundred yards tracking, and found 2 drops of blood (how they even found that I will never know) but in any case we were not going to find this animal, and I don't think it was hurt that bad. We let the property owner know about the animal just in case someone saw it. After the morning, we went hunting for Zebra in the afternoon. The Zebra seemed to be the most difficult to hunt.  They were always running or moving through the brush. We couldn't seem to get close to them without them seeing us. We were finally about to get one by driving the roads during late afternoon. There was a herd moving through the brush in the distance. They still never stopped, but I was able to get a quick shotthrough an opening on one walking in the brush. I was very relieved to get this trophy, and it had a beautiful pattern on its back.

Day 6: We went back to the impala watering hole hoping to see the stiff legged impala for my wife to shoot. We sat many hours and didn't see it, but there was another nice group of impala. I told her to take her time and just look at one through the scope. She was not nearly as nervous, so I told her to go ahead and take the shot. She made a perfect shot this time and dropped the impala within 10 yards. I was very excited for her. This was the first animal she ever shot. Hein made sure to put the customary blood on her face since it was her first kill. She really enjoyed everything, and even though she is not a fan of animal heads on the wall, she was sure to let me know that this animal would be shoulder mounted for the house.

Day 7: All the animals from my package had been shot, and I had also killed a waterbuck and zebra. I had originally planned to also hunt blue wildebeest on this safari. After a lot of convincing from my wife, PH, and camp staff, they talked me in to hunting giraffe on the finally day.  We had seen them during the week, and were very impressed with the size and beauty. Pieter also told me that nobody had shot a giraffe this year on their property. He said it was a unique experience and would provide lots of memories. We set out that morning with the big trailer and went to the property with the most giraffe. We dropped the trailer off and did some riding around to try and spot some groups. There was one group we found that had 2 nice bulls. We sat out on foot after them, but they saw us about 300 yards out and started walking off the other way. It was extremely windy that day, and giraffe also have amazing eyesight. We decided that only Hein and I would stalk after the giraffe because it was going to require some crawling and careful movement to get close. My wife sat in the truck and watched from the road as we started our stalk. We worked out way from bush to bush through the thick brush.  We finally got within 100 yards and I sat down with the gun on my knee to steady for a shot. I pick out the biggest bull and made a shot in the lung area. The giraffe ran off and we started chasing after it. I stopped and put another shot in the heart (I am a pretty good shot, but I admit there was some luck involved to make a heart shot on the run). The giraffe ran another 100 yards and collapsed. I chased after it and put another shot in the vitals to finish it off. My wife and tracker came driving up in the truck and everyone was very excited. It was an awesome hunt and amazing way to end the 7 day safari. The real work started now as they used a winch to position the giraffe for pictures. When it came time to load it on the trailer, the land owner came with a front-end loader. He owns a mining company, so he had heavy machinery on the property. This definitely made life much easier. After we got it back to the skinning shed, I felt bad for the skinner. He had to cut the animal in half to get it in the shed. Even my PH was helping with the skinning (the skin on that thing is over 1 inch). It was quite a day and one I will never forget.

I couldn't have been more happy during the safari. I had a great PH and the staff was awesome. Delmarie is a fantastic cook, and she even made freshly killed giraffe taste good. It was truly a vacation I will never forget, and I don't see how it could be topped.

STEVE & JOANN KNOTT – Minnesota

Animals taken – Red Hartebeest*, Impala*, Warthog*, Sable* - (Joann)

JEFF & JEANNE KNOTT – Minnesota

Animals taken – Warthog*, 2 – Impala*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

TOM THOMPSON – Michigan

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Impala*, Kudu* (56 ¼”), Blesbok*, Warthog*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

After booking in February of 2014, my long awaited safari was finally here, after landing in South Africa, I was met by a staff member from the Afton House, he walked me thru the SAPS office, then off to The Afton House. The next morning My PH Juan was there to pick me up for the last leg of the journey. We arrived early afternoon, and in no time we were hunting. We didn't have any luck that 1st night, but the following 7 days of hunting I took 6 animals , all of which were trophy class animals, My kudu was 56 1/4"! What an experience! Juan called him "The Magnificent Bull", "Bull of a Life Time" Thanks Juan! He also told me the "Story of the Kudu". I am already planning my next hunt, hopefully in 2017, this time I would like to hunt for a nyala and bush buck.

MITCH OLSZEWSKI – Tennessee

Animals taken – Nyala*, Sable*, Bushbuck*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Warthog*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

This was my second trip to Cruiser, the first was in 2013, and it was as memorable as the first. Meals were excellent, PH was superb, and the quality of the game exceptional. In addition to hunting I also got to see the breeding operation Cruiser’s is conducting. Based on the breeding work Cruiser will have even better trophy opportunities in the future.

Day 0: Arrived in camp and as I was putting my stuff in my room Hans (my PH) asks if I would like to hunt that day. I say sure so we go to the range make sure my scope is on and off we go. Within 20 minutes we find a real nice Sable. However, he is in the bush and no matter what angle we take there is no shot. He then beds down so we set off on a stalk. We get to within 20 yds. when he takes off. That’s the Sable I want. We look for him the rest of the afternoon but no luck. We spot a group of 6 Sable and there is a decent bull so we have a plan B in case Plan A does not work out.

Day 1 – Went after the Sable we spotted but never saw him. We saw the group of 6 three times. They were in the same place all day. We also saw a Zebra with a bright white color. He is broadside at about 75 yds. and I am thinking whether or not I want a Zebra when he walks off. Hans looks at me and says “you should have shot him”. About 30 minutes later I turn to him and said “you’re right”. About 3 pm Hans decides that the Sable are just not moving so we go to another property and hunt Nyala. Because it is late Hans sends the driver in one direction while we walk in the other. Within 300 yds. we spot a large group with a good shooter. As soon as I get on the sticks the shooter takes off. We track him but he is gone. The driver calls. He has spotted some nice Nyala. He picks us up and we head to the spot. We see a very nice Nyala and take him.

Day 2 – After some early morning Bushbuck hunting (they don’t stay around very long so you have to spot them quickly, which I was having difficulty with) it is back on the hunt for the Sable. After hunting for several hours we went in for lunch. Hans decided we needed to get out early and check water holes after lunch figuring they would be on their feet getting a drink. We had already determined his home area and checked the first water hole. Moving on we were driving along when I spotted a Sable off to the left about 75 yds. off of the road. I expected Hans to alert the driver to stop but we kept going. I look at Hans and say “Sable on the left”. We back up and Hans says “that’s our Sable, Shoot him.” He ran about 25 yds. after the shot. Beautiful bull, glad we didn’t move to plan B. After getting him back to camp we go out at about 4:30pm to look for bushbuck. I am starting to see them better.

Day 3- The heartache and joy of hunting. Back to the bushbuck hunt. Hans decides that we should hunt from the truck rather than walking the roads. Hopefully that will give us a few more seconds to get off a shot. It seems to be working since the bushbucks we see hang around a couple of seconds longer and they walk away rather than leaving at full speed. Not too many sightings however. About midway through the area Hans spots a huge warthog at 100 yds. I take the shot and miss high. Not feeling good about that. About 30 minutes later Hans says “Bushbuck, Shoot!”. I see him right away. He is walking away instead of running and he goes down with one shot. Hans informs me that this was the big one we spotted the previous evening (OK he spotted it and I never saw it).

Day 4 – We are now on the hunt for Wildebeest. We drive around for about 45 minutes before spotting any. It is a bachelor group with a very nice bull. On the stalk we got busted by a bunch of impala. We got back on them and then got busted by a lone impala. About 45 minutes later we get on another group. The stalk is successful but it is a group of females. An hour later we spot a large group (the males joined the females) but too many eyes. We drove some more and then walked around but only found the females. Saw a small group and stalked them but only young males. Where have the mature bulls gone?  We decide to break for lunch (thank goodness, I am tired) and set off to have our lunch at a spot on the property. We turn a corner and the group of mature bulls are standing on the road at about 150 yds. Hans tells me which is the best bull. But he is quartering hard to me. Hans tells me where to put the shot and says “take the shot if you are comfortable with it”. I do and it is a good hit. We go up to the spot where he was standing and we start to glass the group, which has moved into the brush about 75 yds. to see if we can spot the one that is hurt. Our driver opens the door and says “guys he is down right there”. He went about 10 yds. off the road.

In the afternoon Johan took us on the feeding run for the breeding operation. Wow do they have some great animals coming along. Big Sable, Kudu, Nyala, and Buffalo. In addition, Black Impala and Golden Wildebeest. Beautiful!

Day 5 – Went after the bright white Zebra we saw on Day 1.  We had 3 or 4 stalks on him in the morning but got busted each time. They ran a lot.

Day 6 – Back after my Zebra. Drive around for almost 2 hours before we spot a group. Stalk to about 200 yds. from them (wind is in our favor) and glass. There is one that is brighter than the others but it is not my Zebra (Johan had told me that there were two whiter Zebra and this is the other one).  Hans says “wait for awhile, they don’t know we are here”. About 15 minutes later another group joins them and my Zebra is in that group. They move off to a new position to feed and we move with them. They start to move further into the bush and Hans throws up the sticks. “Shoot him when he walks into that opening. It’ll be the only chance you get”. As he comes through I shoot at about 125 yds. He runs about 50 yds. and is down.

Day 7 – We had seen an exceptionally large warthog on this property twice and both times he ran under the fence before we got a shot off. Hans figured he knew the water hole he was using so we sat in a blind for a while waiting for him to come in. Very hot day. We saw Sable, Impala, Gemsbok, and of course warthogs. But not the one we were looking for. We had just started to have lunch when a big warthog came in. It wasn’t the one we were after but it was it was a good one. I shot and he ran about 100 yds. before going down.

THOMAS SMITH – New Jersey

Animals taken – Gemsbok, Impala*, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Zebra, Warthog*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

ELLIS & MARTHA MARKHAM – Virginia

Animals taken (Ellis) – Eland*, Bushbuck*, Impala

Animals taken (Martha) – Kudu*, Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

It has been eight years since our last hunting safari with Cruiser Safaris, but we are now on our way to enjoy our self’s with them again. This time Martha will also be hunting and of course I brought a rifle just in case some big animal wants to test me.

The drive to Dulles International Airport took a little over two hours. Checking in with South African Airways was very easy with no issues about the firearms. The flight was scheduled to leave at 5:40 PM, but due to thunder storms it was 8:30 PM before we were cleared for takeoff. We were only in the air a few minutes when all of the windows lit up. Shortly thereafter the pilot came on the speaker system to let us know that the plane had been struck by lightning. He then said that thankfully there were no problems with the plane and they we were continuing our trip. There was one stop in the town of Accra for passengers to depart and board, and for the plane to refuel. It was 7:30 PM, South African time, when we arrived in Johannesburg, SA. It had been a 17 ½ hour flight plus 3 hours waiting on the runway at Dulles. I didn’t sleep much during the trip, thus I felt worn out. We had a major problem registering the firearms with SAPS. They asked for our USA 4457 forms and then told us that they were expired and we couldn’t register the firearms. Thankfully, the driver from Afton Guest House pointed out that the forms had been signed and dated in July, 2015. The SAPS officer finally let us register the firearms. It was 9:00 PM when we finally arrived at the B&B.

After a good night’s sleep and meeting some other hunters at breakfast (one of which, Mitch Olszewski, was also hunting at Cruiser Safaris) we relaxed and waited for Cruiser Safaris van. Shortly after 9:00 AM John, a PH and the van driver arrived. He had picked up another hunter, Tom Smith, at the airport before coming to the B&B. We arrived at Cruiser Safaris early in the afternoon to be greeted by DelMarie, the chef, with a cold fruit punch drink for each of us. We were shown to our rooms and shortly heard the drum roll for lunch call. The rest of the afternoon we unpacked, shot the rifles to be sure they were still zeroed, met our PH, Sarel, and just reset our clocks.

Sunday; August 23, 2015; arose at 5:10 AM, had a light breakfast, and left for the hunting property by 6:15 AM. The property we were hunting this morning had most of the game in Martha’s package and some Eland. The Eland was the animal I wanted the most. The PH spotted, through the brush, a group of Blue Wildebeests near a waterhole. Sarel had us walking in a line and close together. Martha was second in line as the Wildebeest was one animal in her package. We moved very slowly and stopped often watching and glassing. As we neared the waterhole a group of Eland, 15 to 20, moved to the waterhole. Sarel told us that there were two very large Eland bulls in the herd. Now Martha switched places and I became the primary hunter. After about an hour and a half we spotted one of the bulls through some brush at about 45 yards that was facing us and eating grass. Sarel set up the shooting sticks and the rifle barked. The Eland hunched up and danced around, but did not go down. I took a second shot through some heaver brush and the Eland walked about twenty feet and lay down on its chest. We walked up to about ten yards from the Eland and I put a third shot through both shoulders. After we were sure the Eland was dead I became excited. Up to that point I had been totally focused on watching the Eland and keeping quiet. As it turned out the Elands horns both measured 36” long and 10” in diameter, and they estimated its weight at 1,400 to 1,600 pounds. After taking pictures and loading the Eland in the truck Samuel, the tracker, took the Eland back to the lodge. The rest of the morning and all afternoon we hunted for a Blue Wildebeest for Martha, but without success. It was a new experience for me to be observer.

Monday (August 24, 2015) just like yesterday we started early. This is Martha’s day to hunt. Spotted a nice Kudu from the truck and Sarel and Martha were on the chase. The Kudu never gave her a good shot so they weren’t gone too long. A little later we spotted another very nice Kudu. This time she shot. Very good bull with matching horns that measured 49” and 49 4/8” with both horns having 11 4/8” bases for a total score of 121 4/8”. While Samuel took the Kudu back to the lodge we sat at a water hole, had lunch and watched lots of animals. In the afternoon we drove around, but the animals must have been bedded. It was quite warm, in the mid-80’s, and the animals just were not moving. Sarel suggested that we drop him off at one of the cross roads and he would walk through to another cross road where we could have a shot if something came out. On the way to the cross road to become blockers we spotted a very nice dark faced Oryx lying in the shade under a tree. Samuel did not see the Oryx and thus didn’t stop. The drive through the bush didn’t push out any animals. We told Sarel about the Oryx. He suggested we drive back to see if the Oryx was still where we had spotted him earlier. He was still lying under the tree so we drove past him turned around and came back. Again Martha took a shot. Now she had harvested two very nice animals on the same day. That was a first for her. The Oryx’s horns measured 34 4/8” and 34” long and both bases were 7 4/8” in diameter for a total score of 84 4/8”. The horns would have scored another 2 to 3” but both tips were broomed. He was an old bull, but had very good coloring.

Tuesday (August 25, 2015) is another day for Martha to hunt. Her goal today is to harvest a Blue Wildebeest. The property we were hunting today was known for having some nice Blue Wildebeest’s. We drove around spotting a number of Wildebeest’s, Warthog’s and Impala, but nothing large enough. Sarel spotted, as usual with his excellent vision, two good Wildebeest’s across a large field under a tree. Martha took a 100 yard shot and the Wildebeest dropped immediately, only to quickly jump up and start running. When the Wildebeest went down Sarel hugged Martha for making such a good shot. Thus, she couldn’t chamber another round. Once she had chambered a second round the Wildebeest was running flat out. She still shot, but it was a clean miss. We easily tracked the Wildebeest across the field and to where it went into some dense brush. Both Samuel and Sarel tracked the Wildebeest both in the heavy brush and back across the large field, but didn’t find it. As it was near lunch time we went back to the lodge for lunch and to allow the Wildebeest to hopefully lie down. After a nice lunch we went back to the main road into the property with Johan, the General Manager. Sarel and Samuel walked through a brushy area where we believed the Wildebeest had gone while Johan blocked on side of the brush and Martha and I another side. When Sarel and Samuel returned they believed we were tracking the wrong Wildebeest. So we went back to where the Wildebeest was originally shot. Samuel showed us where the Wildebeest had fallen and spots of blood. So off went Samuel tracking while Sarel drove us across the field where we had originally seen the Wildebeest run and into heavy brush. Sarel and Samuel tracked the Wildebeest through the brush and back out into the field. They stopped at the truck and told us to stay there unless they called us on the two-way radio. We watched them cross the field and start into another patch of brush. Shortly Sarel called us to come as they had spotted the wounded Wildebeest. Of course, I stuck the truck in some loose sand. After putting the truck into 4-wheel drive we were on the chase again. Sarel took out his rifle and Samuel drove us around the brushy area to the main road where we got ready to shoot. Martha was on the shooting sticks and I was in the truck bed. The Wildebeest came out of the brush at a dead run about 250 yards away. Martha shot twice without success. I took a shot just before it reentered the brush at a measured 270 yards. My bullet broke the large right rear leg bone and the large left front leg bone. It went down and Samuel was jumping up and down congratulating me. Even with the bullet having passed through the length of the Wildebeest is was still alive when we got to it. Martha put a finishing shot into the Wildebeest as this was her kill. What started out as a happy day that turned sad ended with everyone very happy. The horns measured 51” tip to tip, both bosses were 13 4/8” for a total score of 78”. Very good harvest, excellent tracking by Sarel and Samuel, and an exciting day for everyone.

Wednesday (August 26, 2015) I left early with Sarel and Samuel to hunt a different property for Bushbuck. This property had a river that ran through it, which was dry this time of the year, with lots of reeds along the banks. This is the preferred area for Bushbuck’s. Slowly driving along the river bank we spotted three female Bushbuck’s and then a male on the opposite side bank of the river. Sarel stopped the truck a ways past where the male Bushbuck was spotted and we walked back. By the time we got back to where the Bushbuck had been spotted it was gone, so back to the truck. We had not driven very far when another male was spotted. So we repeated what we did before. This time the Bushbuck was still standing in some reeds under a tree watching us. At 150 yards one shot from the shooting sticks was all that was needed. We had left the lodge at 6:10 AM, shot the Bushbuck about 7:10 AM, took pictures and were back at the lodge by 8:00 AM. Now that is a gentleman’s way to hunt. The horns measured 13 4/8” on the right side, 13” on the left; both bases were 5” for a total score of 36 4/8”. The rest of the day was resting, reading books and just generally goofing off. Of course a glass or two of good South African wine helped pass the time.

Thursday (August 27, 2015) we are off to visit the Pilanesberg Game Park with John, the PH, and two of our hunting friends. The drive took about two hours. There were a couple of venders at the park entrance. One vender had a Cape Buffalo for sale at 400 SA Rand. I should have purchased it. As we toured the park we saw all of the usual African game plus elephants, a lion pride, crocodile, giraffe, hippo, jackal, and springbok. We ate lunch at a park restaurant while watching monkeys, Springbok and Impala walking around. That evening the lodge put on a surprise special dinner for the hunters at their river side barbeque site. The main course was Eland steak from the one I had shot. Oh, was it delicious.

Friday (August 28, 2015) was just a relax and goof-off day for us. We read some, talked to the other hunters, and laid in the sun. The weather had been quite warm the entire time, i.e. in the 80’s every day. Since our first trip to Cruiser Safaris Pieter has started breeding a number of the African animals. In the afternoon we had the opportunity to ride with a staff member, Alfred, while he fed the animals. We took lots of pictures of Cape Buffalo, Sable, a Black Impala, Nyala, and petted Bongo (their pet Blesbok). I was now bored so that evening I asked Sarel if he would take me on an Impala hunt the next morning.

Saturday (August 29, 2015) we left the lodge about 6:30 AM for the ranch where Martha shot the Blue Wildebeest. For some reason, maybe because it was full moon, the game was sparse. After driving around for a while we tried sitting at a waterhole for a couple of hours. At least we saw game (Impala, Blesbok, Warthogs, monkeys, Mongoose, and lots of birds) but none of the Impala had large enough horns. Thus, we drove around some more. Sarel spotted a really good looking Impala, but it was a long ways away. Sarel asked if I could see the Impala and would I take the shot. I said “here goes nothing” put the cross hairs on his shoulder and pulled the trigger. Sarel just smiled and said he is dead.  I said where, and he said look for a white spot under the tree where he had been standing. The shot had been at 300 yards. That is the longest shot I have ever taken at game. Back at the lodge John and Sarel set up a barbeque for the hunters out in the bush. We ate bratwurst, fried onion rings, and potato salad, very tasty.

Sunday ( August 30, 2015) we had a late breakfast with the three other hunter that were leaving today. Before they left pictures were taken of everyone including DelMarie, John and Sarel. The rest of the day we spent packing, cleaning boots, and resting for the long trip home.

Monday (August 31, 2015) awoke around 6:00 AM finished packing and had breakfast a little after 8:00 AM. We left the lodge at 8:45 AM with Sarel driving us to the airport. Arrived at the airport at 12:40 PM and checked in at South African Airways registration desk. This time we had to check-in our ammo separately, but no issues. As the boarding was not until 4:40 PM we ate a light lunch and visited a couple of shops. The flight left the terminal at 5:25 PM. The flight was long, about 18 ½ hours, but for my first time I was able to sleep for around four hours. The check-in at Dulles took about two hours. Still we were home by 11:30 AM, of course one day later.

NOTES:

  • New friends:
    • Hunters: Tom Thompson, Tom Smith and Mitch Olszewski,
    • Cruiser Safaris staff: Johan, General Manager; Sarel, John and Hans, PH’s; DelMarie, chef; and Amiee, manager of lodge staff,
  • Rifles:
    • Martha shot her 300 WSM with Barnes TTSX bullet in 168 grains. She made very good first shots. Running shots were very difficult and there is no way to practice that type of shooting, and
    • Ellis used a 338 Win Mag with Barnes TTSX bullet in 225 grains. That rifle was taken mainly because of hunting the Eland. While the shot at the Eland was close the bullet entered at the front of the chest and was located under the skin in the left rear leg.
  • Sarel’s comment to Ellis: “You are an excellent shooter and didn’t take long, less than three seconds, to sight in on an animal before shooting. He thought that very few of his clients were that good.”
September

GLENN &CARLA WOODCOCK – North Carolina

Animals taken – Nyala*, Warthog*, Kudu*, Waterbuck*, Blue Wildebeest*

BUTCH & CAMILLA WOODCOCK – North Carolina

Animals taken – Impala*, Blesbok*, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*

JOSH WOODCOCK – North Carolina

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Warthog*, Blesbok*

DARREN & BRIANNA ROBERTS – Florida

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu*, Impala*, Blesbok*, Warthog*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

JARRETT PAGE – Idaho

Animals taken – 3 – Warthogs (2*), Gemsbok, Eland*, Kudu* (52 ½”), 2 – Impala*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

RALPH SIVYER – Colorado

Animals taken – Kudu*, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok, Impala*, Blesbok*, Warthog*

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

STEVE BRASHIER – Bahrain

Animals taken – Gemsbok, Zebra, Kudu* (52”), Warthog*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Red Hartebeest, Impala*

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

MIKE NEMETH – Alaska

Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Gemsbok, 2 – Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Steenbok*, Kudu, Bushbuck*, Waterbuck*, Blesbok*, 2 – Warthog*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

I hunted with Cruiser Safaris September 10 – 23 with a full 12 days of hunting. I had booked a 10 day package and added two additional days of hunting. During my safari, Sarel was my PH and Samuel was our tracker. They were both fantastic company and very skilled and knowledgeable. My expectations were to take mature specimens of the trophies I had hoped for. On day one I was lucky enough to score on a fantastic impala, an old bull gemsbok with splintered horn tips, and a blue wildebeest with a great hide (hide was more important than horns on this one).

Day two turned out to be another 3 animal day. During most of the safari, we would spot animals from the truck and then it was on foot stalking and tracking, a fantastic way to spend the day! Day three brought another snorter impala, a fine zebra, and a nice steenbok. The meals during the trip were very good and plentiful. Delmarie was always accommodating when asked to prepare game that had been recently harvested and we had a braai (BBQ) multiple times during my stay and a fantastic dinner near the river (dry this time of the year).

Day three had us hunting bushbuck (added to package) on foot still hunting along the river. It was a great experience, seeing multiple bushbuck females and males. The barking noise they make when alarmed was very dog like. It was a great morning hunt even though we did not see the one I was hoping for. Since I already had 6 animals in the salt and I am not a rich man, it was time to take a break so we took the afternoon off.

Day four had us heading to a mountain property for kudu. Once we had picked up the game scout that was required for us to hunt the property the hunt was on. During our ride into the property Sarel found out that there were some good bushbuck that had been seen by Kaiser (the scout).  Sarel called Pieter to see if we were able to hunt bushbuck and it was approved. So a change in plans for the morning, bushbuck it was. We still hunted the river for approximately 3 hours, seeing 7 bushbuck and one shooter, which did not provide a shot opportunity. So we were now off to look for kudu heading up into the hills. The vegetation was different here, very much like southwest of the U.S. Cacti, yucca, and other desert plants were abundant in areas. After about an hour of driving looking for game Sarel made the comment that he couldn’t believe that we had not seen any wildebeest. Evidently, the property had a good population. Not five minutes later, there were wildebeest in the road.  arel said you have to shoot that one, I asked why and then I saw him. I don’t remember the rifle coming up or the shot going off, but I now had an incredible trophy. The bull had an amazing drop horn on its right side and was huge, a true trophy of a life time! We could not believe it; Sarel said that we would never see another like him in our lives. Once the photos and celebration we had a bit of lunch and loaded the beast in the bakkie. We were off for kudu. Not fifteen minutes later, Sarel spotted horns on the mountainside shinning in the sun. We dismounted the moving vehicle as to not spook the bull. Once we made our way back to the area, Sarel was able to locate the bull on the mountain approximately 180 meters away. After about a 20 minute wait for the bull to move out of cover, it was over. I had a fantastic old bull with heavy worn horns, a true trophy in my eyes! We were able to get photos with both animals together and then we were off. Back to the lodge and skinning shed. Three and a half days of hunting and I had 8 great trophies in the salt. I really need to slow down, since I now have 2 impala and 2 wildebeest. But the reality of it is, you need to take what Africa offers to you. If you pass up an exceptional animal, you may never see another like it in your life.

Day five, this morning we would try sitting in the blind we had set up near the hole a giant warthog was using as his den. We had seen him there two days earlier and hoped to see him first thing in the morning. So we were off earlier than usual (0530) in anticipation of him making a mistake.  While walking in, we heard something busting through the brush away from the area of the hole. We hoped that is was another animal, but after sitting for 4 hours with no sign of him, we figured that we had spooked him while walking in. So just before 1000, we decided to switch properties and try to get a Blesbok in the salt before lunch. After not seeing many Blesbok in the first 4 days of hunting, this day would be different. We were on to them and chased them for hours, just before it was time to head out for lunch, Sarel spotted a lone Blesbok bedded and another stalk was on. This time we closed the distance to under 100 meters and a well-placed shot later he was down. It was another beautiful animal in the salt. After lunch we would spend the rest of the day back in the blind waiting for the Warthog. This turned out to be a very slow afternoon. After hours of waiting and with only 15 minutes of light left he made his appearance. The surprising thing is he came in from a completely different direction then we would have guested. He came down the road from the left; I spotted his tail and told Sarel he was here. As he came closer, he stopped and looked right at the makeshift blind. It was like he was staring through us.  He looked for what seemed an eternity, and then continued to walk towards the hole, leaving the road and stepping behind some thick brush. Sarel told me to get ready and once he cleared the bush, to shoot. It seemed like 10 minutes went by, but it was only seconds before he came into view again and with this came the shot. In the recoil, I could see a large cloud of dust and off he went. Sarel stated that he though I may have shot over him. Just then there was a loud racket from the direction he had ran, it appeared he may have been down. We left the blind; as darkness was closing in fast and hoped locate him quickly. In the light that was available no blood was seen and I started to think that Sarel may have been right. But another 10 yards proved him wrong and I found the Warthog piled up just outside some thick brush. The shot had been true and went clean through the front right shoulder and exited just behind the left shoulder. The Warthog was a true monster and Sarel and I could not have been more pleased as he had long curving tusks with a great classic shape. We took some photos and loaded the Warthog for the trip back to camp. This was a great night, on the way back we needed to pick up the skinner to take care of the hog. Once we had him and were ready to leave, it was apparent that we were not heading to camp. There was a surprise for everyone in camp that evening.  Dinner would be at a fantastic place along the river that had been built just for this type of occasion. It was a great way to top off a memorable evening, a great meal with new friends!

Day six, Bushbuck was the animal of the day, so it was off to a river property for the morning’s hunt. As I stated earlier, still hunting bushbuck was one of my favorite hunts throughout the safari. This morning would be no different. We slowly made our way through the brush near the river bank, seeing more than a few ewes and young males. As we approached an area where we had seen a good bushbuck some days back we started to scan the area with anticipation. The bushbuck we were looking for was a beautiful specimen approximately 15” long and flaring out at its tips. After about an hour, Sarel spotted him on the other side of the river on the neighbor’s property (the center of the river is used as the property line) and the neighbor did not allow hunting of Bushbuck and steenbok on the property. So we decided we would tail him from our side, hoping that he would cross over and the deal could be sealed. This game of chess continued on for about an hour before something spooked the ewe that had joined him and they both disappeared into the brush, not to be seen again. We continued hunting the river for about an hour and then decided to sit in a nearby blind to see if we could get lucky with another hog. We weren’t in the blind for 20 minutes when a bushbuck ewe came into the water. At times she was 20 meters from us and she had no idea we were there. The wind was finally working for us and it was a treat to watch her go about her morning. After about 25 minutes we heard something in the brush, when I looked in the direction I saw horns! 40 meters away was a bushbuck ram looking in our direction but he hadn’t seen us. He was beautiful and I lifted the rifle to see him through the scope. As soon as I saw him, I knew he wouldn’t be leaving the area under his own power. I had a frontal shot, so I place the reticle high on his chest and squeezed the trigger. At the shot he went straight down like he had been struck by lightning. I had my bushbuck and I couldn’t have been happier. After getting the bushbuck to the skinning shed and spending some time there with the skinners we had some lunch and it was off to try to find another monster warthog or a larger steenbok. The afternoon was great and passed quickly. We never did see a warthog that I was interested in, but we did have two stalks on steenbok that wound up being about the same size as the one I had taken earlier in the safari. It was a great day in the field and I was looking forward to the rest of my days in Africa!

Day seven, this morning started around 0600, the plan was to look for a big warthog, duiker, or larger steenbok. He headed for one of the properties we had hunted in the past. This property had a good population of pigs, steenbok and some duiker. We saw plenty of warthogs, but none that I was looking for. After seeing a few female steenbok we started to see an abundance of waterbuck. We saw a really nice bull and I decided that it was not something that I was interested in. A waterbuck was not on my list and I really wanted another big pig. Before I had even booked the trip the waterbuck was on the maybe if I go back to Africa a second time list. We continued on and after a few hours of looking for game that I was interested in, we came across another nice bull waterbuck. I really liked his mass and decided what the heck, there’s no time like the present! So the stalk was on, we were able to close the distance and the bull bedded in some thick cover. We sat down trying to find a hole through the thick brush some 60 meters away. There we sat waiting for him to make a move, it seemed like an eternity but it was probably less than a half hour. He seemed to sense that something wasn’t quite right and he stood and started to move to our right immediately. We countered his move looking for a hole to shoot through. Finally two steps later a hole opened up and there was a resounding thump at the shot. He went straight down and was right back on his feet. The shot had broken his shoulder and he was trying to make a getaway. At this point we were running after him through the brush looking for a shot. He hit a small clearing and at the sound of the shot, it was over. He was a fantastic animal and had a beautiful hide and worn heavy cream colored horns. It’s hard to beat a day in Africa! The waterbuck was loaded and we headed back to the skinning shed. The rest of the day would be spent relaxing nd writing in my journal. After 7 days of hunting, even with a few half days off, I had 12 animals in the salt! I had planned on 8 animals in 12 days of hunting, so I was way beyond ahead of schedule and running out of the emergency funds!

Day eight, the morning hunt was spent looking for another steenbok or warthog. We still hunted most of the morning, locating a few smallish steenbok and warthogs. The afternoon hunt was spent overlooking a waterhole in hope that a shooter warthog would show. Not really my favorite way to spend an afternoon, but when in Rome…. No shooters showed, but we did have a large herd of zebra come in to drink and it was all I could do not to end up with #2.

Day nine, since I was running low on funds and still had days to hunt, I called for a day off. It was off to Lephalale to watch the Rugby World Cup. South Africa was playing Japan and I figured it would be like watching Monday Night Football South African style! When my PH heard my plan, he was thrilled (you could see it all over his face). He decided we would take his personal vehicle and do a little sightseeing along the way. Another hunter in camp had finished early, so I suggested he come along. He said yes and we had a great day! As most know South Africa lost to Japan in a huge upset.

Day ten, was spent perusing Duiker and Warthog to no avail. We saw plenty of game and it was hard to stay off the trigger, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

Day eleven, started out with us looking for Duiker and switched gears quite fast. While driving one of the roads, Sarel spotted some tracks that made him stop the vehicle. After Sarel had a short conversation with Samuel we were off the truck trying to decipher the tracks. Within a minute, Sarel said that it appeared that 3 cheetahs had gotten through the fence and were probably still on the 6000 acre property. We followed the tracks as they crossed the road and within minutes found a kudu calf that had been killed and partially eaten by them.  A call was made to the land owner and we immediately began blocking all of the warthog holes along the fence. It was exciting to be part of this exercise and it saved me some money.

Day twelve would be my last day hunting for plains game in Africa. It’s amazing how you can be planning your next trip back and the rifle isn’t even in the case yet! Again the day was spent looking for another monster warthog. One was seen late in the afternoon but offered no shot. It would have to wait until the next safari. I had a fantastic time hunting with Cruiser Safaris and would hunt with them again in a heartbeat. The staff was always accommodating and I feel I truly made some friends. Sarel was a fantastic PH and I hope to hunt with him again in 2017.

LEESA CLARK – Michigan

Animals taken – Zebra

JOHN BOSCH – Michigan

Animals taken – Kudu* (53 ¼”), Impala*, Gemsbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*

VINCE & CATHY NORRIS – Wisconsin

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Kudu, Impala*, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Warthog*, Nyala*

Hunt Photos

Highlights: (Cruiser Bob: Being with our son John and Leesa’s brother Vince and his wife Cathy on their first African safari,  it doesn’t get any better than that.)

Cathy’s Log: The journey to Africa begins.

We drove to Minneapolis to start the long flight to Africa. P.S. I’m not excited about the flight. Vince didn’t sleep much (translation neither did I). At 1:30 am I woke up to him rummaging through his stuff because he thought he forgot his gun paperwork. At 2:30 am I woke up and he was awake, well, just because! I love that man!  At 3:30 am we had to get up and head to the airport so we weren’t late for our flight. We arrived 3 ½ hours early and just sat and waited……..Watching people in the airport is quite interesting. I got to see my first guy wearing women’s clothing. A dress and heels and it was no big deal to him. Me on the other hand, that’s just creepy. I saw a lady that looked like the sparkle farm threw up on her. I shook my head a lot. I wonder if someone was watching me shaking their head? O, then we had a five-hour layover for our next flight but we got to meet up with Bob, Leesa and Johnny so it wasn’t so bad.

September 21, 2015

We finally arrived. 18 hours in the air is some crazy crap I say. People stink and wear too much perfume. We stayed at Highveld’s guest house. Wow is that place amazing. Went to dinner then had some amazing wine and headed off to bed. I slept like a rock. Lovey on the other hand, not so much.

September 22, 2015

We toured Highveld taxidermy shop and I wandered around the yard. It’s beautiful but I don’t think I would want to live in a barricaded compound and be afraid to go out after dark. Bob, Leesa and John met up with us for our next leg of the journey to Pieter and Lizelle’s. I’m amazed at some of the places the South Africans live. Corrugated metal houses but many of them have satellite tvs hooked to them! After a few hour drive, a stop at a really cool grocery store where I carried my chocolate rock candy on my head (I had to, I saw a lady carrying a bag of oranges on her head so I had to try) and then a place to eat before we arrived. It’s prettier than I imagined. The flowers smell so wonderful and the sunset was incredible. We met everyone including “Tiny” our cook. She has a heart of gold! Hans, who will be Vince’s PH for the hunts, BP (Big Pieter – John named him BP) hunting with John, Juan, another PH that will be gone this week, Aimee, who is there for anything we need and Sorrell (ahhh Sorrell).  Pieter and Lizelle’s children came to meet us as well. Christian has grown so much and their daughters are as beautiful as their mother. This has to be the politest (if that’s a word) people I have met! They always pray before eating, never use their fingers when eating and always ask to be excused from the dinner table when they are done. They do, however, like to play their pranks.

September 23, 2015

There is a rooster here. Let me tell you a little story about the rooster. The rooster likes to crow 1 ½ hours before there is even a shred of light! I want to kill the rooster! However, in the end, I don’t kill the rooster, but I really want to kill the rooster. Today we saw Kudu, Blesbok, Impala, Warthogs and other things that Hans told me but I don’t remember. My brain is going 90 miles per hour and I’m spitting out questions left and right. Poor Hans had no clue what he’s was in for and by the end of the trip neither did BOB……LOL And remember Catee, it’s Tracker not Stalker……………………………… I love the baby Warthogs, they are so CUTE! And I love how their tails stick straight up when they run; I hear the circus song every time I see one running. You know, do do doodle doodle do do…….  I’m going to make sure Vince shoots a big Warthog just so I can get the tail mounted! Vince shot a Wildebeest, they are kind of ugly and they smell and it’s just gross! But it will look gorgeous hanging on our wall. It’s very hot here but I love it and I’m still basking in how beautiful it is.  We went back to camp for lunch and to take a rest. Hans took us back out in the afternoon. I swear that man was driving 95 miles per hour down the two track when all of the sudden a warthog came flying out and ran right down the two track in front of the truck. I don’t know who was more scared that it was going to get hit, me or the warthog. At the last minute the warthog exited stage left and was safe and sound! We saw so many animals this afternoon; Giraffes, more Warthogs, Impala, Little Midget Deer that I can’t remember the name of (sorry Hans), squirrels and even a mouse! Vince shot his Gemsbok and of course it is a beautiful animal. After that we headed back to camp. Tiny had another wonderful meal for us. We sat around and talked and laughed some more! I’m so tired but so wide awake. What a conundrum!

September 24, 2015

We got a late start but it’s all good. You are really never late here and I love that. We had an hour ride to a mountain property and the roads lack maintenance (a lot). The only time they do get work is when a farmer decides to plow it. Sometimes there were two lanes and sometimes there was only one and there is no speed limit signs so Hans drove like a mad man! As usual Leesa and I talked and laughed the whole way there. Poor guys….. We only got shushed a few times today. Vince shot his Kudu today and we found out what tracking is like. Four hours later the Kudu was in the truck thanks to Hans and his tracker. On the way back to the owners house we stopped so Vince could shoot an Impala. We stopped at the owners house so he could see the animals Vince got. Leesa shut the dogs head in the door when she climbed into the truck which resulted in more laughing (poor dog). On our way back we saw some monkeys and Vince came up with a T-shirt idea for El Capi-tan but I can’t remember what it was but I can tell you it was funny. Ask Leesa, she will remember.

September 25, 2015

Lots of laughing at breakfast and then again on our way to the hunt. I went out with John, Bob & Leesa today. We saw the “BIG” Giraffe today and he is magnificent. Bob said that there are two babies out there but we probably won’t see them. Their mommas keep them hidden. Leesa and I only got shushed twice today. Time just seems to hang in the air here. It was 9:40 am and we all thought it was past lunch time. When we headed out for the afternoon hunt I could have sworn BP said we were going to the Bastards property. What he really said was we were heading to the Pastor’s property….OOPS! On our way, we saw an Ostrich sitting on a nest. I triple dog dared BP to go get me a discarded non=fertile egg. Turns out he’s not afraid of triple dog dares! I got an egg if only for the time we are here as there are illegal to take into the US. That, however, didn’t last long. BP kept telling us how the eggs are so strong you can stand on them. Of course I didn’t believe him and asked him to show me. HA! He’s got egg on his face!!!! He stood on poor “Charlie” the egg and it broke! He did give him a proper burial by kicking dirt on the yolk. $5 word of the day ~ Wherewithal~ If Johnny would have had the wherewithal to put a bullet in the chamber he may have shot the animal! It was getting dark when John shot his Red Hartebeest. Wow are they pretty animals. It started thundering and lightening and it lit up the whole sky. What an amazing sight.

September 26, 2015

Up at 5:00 am! Sheesh ~ that’s nothing, that crazy Rooster was up at 4:22 am! Little Bastard! Heading out with Lovey and Hans today. We did a lot of walking and Vince shot his Warthog with one shot! It’s a biggun too! Can’t wait to have the tail mounted! It’s called the “Bush” Catee, not the woods. Hans probably told me that ten times. He is such a patient man….thank God because I have asked him more questions than he probably has gotten all year! F#$%ing Thorn trees. I swear to God it pierced the side of my ear. Darn near gave me whiplash when it reached out and grab me! Those darn things hurt and they are everywhere! So, I’m super fascinated with the sand river (The river behind the camp that at this time of the year was dry). As we were out hiking around the “Bush” not the woods, we crossed the sand river several times. We looked up river just in time to see a bunch of monkeys running across, then a few minutes later a bunch of Impala ran across the other direction then, not two minutes later a bunch of Warthogs crossed going back the other way. It was like watching a real live cartoon! PS the sand river is not easy to walk through. Great quad workout though. We headed back to camp for Pieter’s dads 90th Birthday party.

September 27, 2015

And……the day begins with the Rooster up at 4:37 am! We are headed to the new property today. Its name means Heaven and that’s what this property looked like. Bow Chica WOW WOW – Chico was our driver today because Samuel stayed up late and didn’t show up. As we were driving through the bush John got hooked by one of those thorn trees. He made a very funny noise (kind a girlish) and then the blood started. I laughed really hard, which wasn’t nice but darn that was funny. Johnny didn’t have much luck this AM but Vince got his Red Hartebeest. It’s quiet on the farm today, nice and relaxing.

September 28, 2015 (Happy Birthday Dad)

We start every morning with a wonderful breakfast made by Tiny (Del Marie). It’s wonderful and I could get used to this. We are off to hunt Nyala with Pieter and Hans at Camp #4. There are six Nyala’s here and two of the big ones are Pieter’s and he said Vince can’t shoot them. We drove the entire property several times and only saw the two! Pieter went out walking with Vince to see if they could find one. Sure enough all they saw was one of the big ones. He tapped Vince on the shoulder and said “Shoot the Fuc@#er”! Vince ended up with a beautiful Nyala and now we are getting a full mount! Eye yi yi!  My taxidermy bill is going to be crazy! Later that day we went out to check the water holes with Pieter. Still curious about the sand river, I asked Bob where the water for the river starts. He said “God”, He’s such a help. I didn’t realize that the only time there is water in this river is during the rainy season which I affectionately named Rain River. We ended up going out with Leesa and John this afternoon. He’s on the hunt for a Blesbok. We went to Pieter’s property across the road from camp. We had so much fun tonight! I sure do love these people. Johnny got his Blesbok, we got to see the dog take off to track it and we got to watch Sorrell ride on the front of the jeep thing directing the driver. We got back to camp laughing and teeheeing, ready to eat and that’s when the PH’s rushed us into the trucks because they said they wanted to show us something. After all the tricks and pranks I was a little nervous. I saw a shooting star and there was a Blood Moon tonight that lit up the entire sky. We ended up down by the sand river for a Brie (barbecue). What a wonderful evening that was. While we were out hunting the PH’s, Tiny and Aimee took all the food and drinks down to the sand river to cook outside for us. They had lights, candles and torches all over the grounds and the food was amazing.

September 29, 2015

4:30 am wake up call to go sightseeing. Really?  That’s nothing, the flipping Rooster was crowing at 3:48 am! Everyone seems a bit testy this morning. Could it be the 4:30 am wake up call, the Friggin’ Rooster crowing? You choose. Off we go. BP thinks he’s Mario Andretti on these dirt roads. I thought my face was going to shake off. I can’t believe these trucks don’t fall apart with how fast they go. I seriously have a cartoon running through my head as we are speeding down this dirt road; the truck starts loosing pieces and we keep going until all that is left are the frame and the seats with us still sitting there staring at each other. I didn’t share this with the group as I know they would think I’m crazy.  Well, not Leesa anyway. She was probably thinking the same thing! We are on our way to ride the Elephants and I’m so excited! Vince and I rode Mickey and he pretty much does what he wants. No Joke. This was scarier than I thought it would be. Mr. Mickey decided he want a piece of a tree and left the path to go get it. The guide told us to hang on and that’s what we did! We were told that the reason they cut off Mickey’s tusks is because he has already killed three Rhinos. Why you ask? Mickey hates Rhinos. It was a lot of fun. Vince and Bob said they don’t need to do that again. We did get to see some Hippos but they wouldn’t come out of the water and I was not allowed to go by the water. BP took us to the vet clinic where we got to see two orphaned baby rhinos. OMG! I want one! They are precious. This has been another amazing day!

September 30, 2015

And with that, it’s time to go. *POOF*

I crossed a few things off from my bucket list.

I met some amazing people.

I love listening to the Afrikaans language.

I’m amazed at how time stands still here.

I said when I came here “I don’t think I could live here” now, I don’t want to leave. What an odd feeling.

There is a beauty here that can’t be explained or captured on film.

The sunsets are astonishing, the sunrises spectacular and the Sand River is mind boggling.

Africa is amazing; it steals your heart and takes your breath away.

October

MITCHELL & LINDA SCARBROUGH – Texas

Animals taken – Kudu*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*, Gemsbok, Cape Buffalo*, Impala*, Zebra

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

Cape Buffalo, we started early in the morning, first finding the heard and then getting them to move when we found they were in thick stuff that we could not get into. We made them move several times without letting them get our scent or see us. Finally they had had enough and they made a stand, with the cows and calves charging and breaking off. The PH's had me on the sticks and said to get ready, the bull would be next. Then he charged and stopped at about 45 yards and I shot him in the front of the chest. He went over to a tree and just stood there, so we backed away for 30 minutes. When we came back he was gone. We found him about 30 minutes later with the cows and the whole group ran. For the next two hours we looked for them, on foot and then in Pieter's old green Land Cruiser. We finally found them with the cows and a young bull protecting him. We got in and I took a side shot going through both lungs. The cows and calves still would not move away. The PH's had me shoot him in the left shoulder which broke him down. After he went down, the cows moved away and I put the final shot in his neck, but he still tried to get back up. Finally he gave his bellow and we started the picture taking. At the skinning shed we found the first shot had clipped an artery, went through his heart and into the stomach, one tough animal to be on his feet 3 hours before we could get the second shot into him.

Linda's "pretty" zebra - my wife decided, after we had taken the Cape Buffalo, that she wanted a zebra, John and I spent part of two days looking for a good one with a rifle, but not getting a shot. We decided to hunt using my bow and were offered a blind that we named "the oven". This blind was a large plastic water tank that had been set upside down on a concrete base. It overlooked water and feed. But in 100F+ temperatures it was HOT. The first day in it I took an impala and we saw zebra, and a lot of other animals, but I could not get a shot on one. Second day we went to another blind, which was cooler as it was cement with a thatched roof, reed sides and under a shade tree, but no zebra came in. Next day we took off from hunting and went to town, Linda had a spa day and John and I went to one of the parks. Saturday morning we are going back out for zebra, my wife wanted me to use my rifle, but John and I wanted to take him with a bow.  We talked at breakfast and decided to go back to the oven. We get in the blind and John said we would have him by noon. We saw zebra almost at once and John picked out a beautiful stallion, but he wouldn't come in. We waited about an hour and the group moved off. Soon a large group came in from the other side and watered across the road. This was starting to look like the first day in the oven when they did the same thing and would not get closer than 50 yards. They circle outside of the shooting area, but then decided to come on in. John picked a pretty young stallion and I had a straight shot at 20 yards. I pulled back and he stopped me, the stallion he had picked early this morning was coming in behind. I had to lean far to my left to get the pin on his left shoulder and John said to take the shot. The arrow hit him a little back but come out right under his off shoulder - double lung. All heck broke out as all of the animals quickly left the area. We waited 40 minutes and then John started looking for him, which was hard as all of the other animals had covered up his tracks and any blood. At about 75 yards he finds blood and we found the zebra at about 150 yards. Linda got her pretty zebra and we are finished before noon.

FORREST HUGHES – Indiana

Animals taken – Sable*, Eland*, Nyala*, Steenbok*

TIM SMITH – Maryland

Animals taken – Nyala, Warthog*, Impala*, Waterbuck*, Steenbok*

LEE SMITH – Virginia

Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Impala*, Gemsbok, Kudu* (52 5/8”), Warthog

EARL SMITH – Georgia

Animals taken – Kudu*, Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*

No Hunt Photos Available

Highlights:

JOHN & LORRAINE TORRES – California

Animals taken – Kudu* (54”), Gemsbok*, Impala*, Warthog*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest

VICTOR & DEBBIE MAUS – California

Animals taken – Gemsbok*, 2 – Impala*, Kudu, Warthog*

Hunt Photos

Highlights:

(John) Enjoyed every minute of trip and would highly recommend to anyone interested in a hunt to South Africa. Everyone very professional. Lots of game.

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Page updated October 24, 2017